It’s almost become second nature when something major happens to us: Update social media. However, if you are injured in a Florida car accident, our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys urge caution,. The reality is you could inadvertently harm your claim for damages.
We’re all familiar with those “gotcha” news clips of a person who claimed they were seriously hurt and video evidence showed it clearly wasn’t as bad as they’d alleged. We’re not even talking about those cases. The insurance company and other defendants, they will want to damage your credibility any way they can. Defendants in personal injury lawsuits can request the court grant access to review your page – your posts, your likes, your photographs, your videos and even private messages. (Some courts have held that privacy settings matter when it comes to these requests. For example, a federal appellate court ruled in Crispin v. Audigier Inc. that when a user’s settings are “private,” their posts there are to be treated as private and not-discoverable, based on a 1986 electronics communication law. Yet the Supreme Court of New York, Suffolk County, ruled just the opposite in Romano v. Steelcase, finding the court could compel plaintiff to consent to turning over all current and deleted contents from her social media accounts, absent any consideration for her privacy settings, so long as the information contained therein was “material and necessary.”
What you need to bear in mind is that everything has the potential to be used against you. This is true even among injury plaintiffs that are truthful about how the accident happened and the extent of the injuries they suffered. Sometimes, it’s as seemingly innocuous as emojis or “likes.”
Take the Romano personal injury lawsuit for instance, wherein plaintiff was injured when her workplace chair collapsed. She sued the manufacturer of that chair, alleging defective design. She asserted in her complaint that her physical injuries had resulted in emotional anguish, as she was not able to leave her home or socialize with friends. To counter this assertion, the defense presented evidence gleaned from her social media page: Showing her in more than one instance outside her home, counting up the number of “friends” she had on her page and even pointing out the smiley-faced emojis with which she often punctuated her posts. Of course, we all know what we post on social media paints a rosier picture than the reality. Nonetheless, it was twisted and used against her.
Some judges have found, in the interest of privacy and to avoid “fishing expeditions,” the alternative is to have a neutral third-party review the material in question to determine its relevance. But Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys know that still doesn’t keep your pages and pictures from being reviewed and potentially entered into evidence in your injury lawsuit.
It should be noted that Facebook does not guarantee complete privacy, and regardless of one’s privacy settings, the company’s own disclaimer states, “Please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.” (This was the basis on which the court decided the Romano case.) Further, be wary of any new “friend” requests from unfamiliar individuals.
If you have questions about what to post – or avoid posting – you can discuss these concerns with your personal injury attorney. However, when in doubt, go the cautious route.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Crispin v. Audigier Inc., May 26, 2010, U.S. District Court, Central District, California
More Blog Entries:
Families Seek Damages for Florida Keys Truck Accident That Killed Four Tourists, Sept. 22, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney Blog