If you have been injured in an accident, it is only natural to share that news with your friends and family. As a result, many individuals post pictures to Facebook and write about their injury and their experience. This may seem like a great way to keep your loved ones updated on your condition, but in reality, it could jeopardize your case–and your ability to win your lawsuit.
Insurance adjusters and the defendant’s attorney could view even a simple picture of you at a birthday party with friends and twist it to their advantage. They could use it to prove that you are not as injured as you claim, that your loss of enjoyment in life is not diminished, and that you are not in pain if you could go to a party. If you have a personal injury claim pending, it is best to avoid social media altogether and tighten up all of your privacy settings. Avoid posting anything to your Facebook page and get family and friends to avoid tagging you in pictures as well.
As an example, assume you slipped and fell on a wet floor in a well-known restaurant chain. You are suing, claiming negligence, and post this fact on your Facebook page. One of your old college buddies responds, “Hey, Joe, you been drinking again?” Even though you’ve been out of college for more than a decade and may not have taken a drink since, this perfectly innocent comment could seriously damage your case.
In 2010, one of the first New York Facebook decisions was based on a photograph of a woman smiling on her Facebook page. Sounds innocent enough, right? The woman’s FB page was public, with little or no privacy settings, and essentially the defendant argued that since the woman was smiling, then perhaps she was not in as much pain as she alleged. Once the defendants saw the plaintiffs Facebook page, they moved for a court order granting access to: all the plaintiff’s current and historical Facebook and MySpace pages and accounts. This include “all deleted pages and related information upon the grounds that plaintiff has placed certain information on these social networking sites, which is believed to be inconsistent with her claims in this action…especially her claims for loss of enjoyment of life.”
The exploding use of social media, and the desire of defendants to access that data, has changed the entire landscape of personal injury law, and has ramifications for the courts as well. In another New York case, Fawcett v. Altieri, Fawcett alleged assault and battery by Altieri, resulting in an injury to Fawcett’s eye. The defendant in the case demanded access to current and historical information and photographs from Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and any other social media websites. It seems the plaintiff had social media postings, which suggested his injuries were not as severe as claimed.
The court found in favor of the defendant, stating that Facebook and other social media sites allow users to share such things as political views, vacation photos and any other thoughts and concerns the user deems fit to broadcast on the Internet. Judge Matthew Sciarrino, Jr., even pointed out that “if you post….it is just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.” While many of us set our Facebook privacy settings at maximum, and believe we are entitled to that privacy, consider that an old-fashioned, hand-written diary may be considered “private,” but under certain circumstances may also be discoverable during a lawsuit.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident in Miami, Miami Gardens, North Miami Beach, or anywhere in South Florida, we can help. The Miami personal injury attorneys at the Dante Law Firm are ready to assist you and your family and help you recover the compensation you deserve. We can guide you through the litigation process, and advise you on how to handle social media and other potential traps. We care about your injury and we know how to handle the insurance companies on your behalf. Let us help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call today!