Social Media: Impact on Car Accident Claims
If you have a car accident insurance claim pending, here is a free piece of winning legal advice: Be careful what you post on Facebook or other social media sites.
Perhaps you’ve seen the posts about adjusting your privacy settings. Perhaps your friends have asked you to click here or hover there to ensure privacy.
Our personal injury lawyers are here to help keep it simple: There is no such thing as online privacy.
A great rule of thumb: Never post anything online you would be uncomfortable answering for in front of a judge.
As we begin 2013, it’s a brave new world: Six states have already passed laws prohibiting bosses from obtaining employee login information for social networks, including Facebook. New Jersey has also passed a law prohibiting employers from preventing employees from using social media for collective bargaining purposes.
But none of those laws apply in Florida. And, more importantly, none of them apply to anyone other than your employer. What we are seeing in an increasing number of cases, is the many ways in which social media posting can impact a wide range of legal cases, including criminal cases, domestic and divorce cases, workers’ compensation cases and personal injury and wrongful death litigation.
If you are pleading for alimony, posting photographs of you and your new beau in Barbados is a bad idea. And if you are involved in a personal injury or wrongful death case, posting about it on Facebook is never a good idea. As an example, late last year a federal magistrate in Colorado ruled a group of women suing their employer for sexual harassment must turn over Facebook comments regarding the case.
While the plaintiffs’ Facebook accounts will first be reviewed by an intermediary, defense counsel is contending some of the women speculated about how much money they would be awarded, while others engaged in sexual aggressiveness and sexually amorous communications online. A photograph of one of the accusers was also posted that reportedly depicts her wearing a shirt with a derogatory female term, which she alleges in the lawsuit is offensive.
When a plaintiff files a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, he or she is most often suing an at-fault party’s insurance company. Defense attorneys and their investigators will review all aspects of a plaintiff’s conduct in building a defense, and that includes social media posts on Facebook and elsewhere.
Don’t count on privacy settings or the discretion of your Facebook “friends.” The opposition may attempt to friend you or may even gain access to your account through other means, including friends of friends.
As Michael E. Hegarty, the federal magistrate in Colorado, wrote:
“There is a strong argument that storing such information on Facebook and making it accessible to others presents an even stronger case for production, at least as it concerns any privacy objection. It was the claimants (or at least some of them) who, by their own volition, created relevant communications and shared them with others.”
With a insurance claim or case pending before the court, it’s best to do your talking to your attorney. So if you don’t want to answer for it in court, don’t post it on Facebook.
Ask A Lawyer
If you’ve been injured and want to pursue an car accident claim, call 954-961-5100 in Broward or 1-877-961-5100 anywhere in Florida for a free attorney consultation.