Don’t Be Too Social With Social Media 

By

by George Saba

It is estimated that over two-thirds of the world’s internet users are subscribers to at least one social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. Facebook, for example, has more than 1.6 billion active daily users.

Each of these sites contain personal information including profiles, status updates, photographs, comments and quotes. This information is accessible and creates an easy source of information into your daily habits.

Insurance companies or their investigators can often find out a good deal information about your habits, friends and activities. It is almost like free surveillance.  Your photos, marital and health status, opinions, activities, political views, location, and physical information are available. It is usually the first source that an investigator will look to obtain information.

Once you file a claim for personal injuries, everything you do or have done, will be investigated, especially your activities. For example, if you are claiming a back injury and your Facebook page contains photos of you engaging in activities, even something so simple as you taking a walk, will be used to counter your injury claims.  Even harmless comments on your page will be misconstrued and potentially used against you.

If you file a lawsuit, every public posting you ever made will become discoverable.  An insurance company may even try to request your password so they can obtain private information. They will argue that they are entitled to that information since it may show information that is contrary to the allegations in your lawsuit.

The courts in Pennsylvania have ruled that social media can be used to show events that parties to a case have attended at a different time. A party may inquire into Facebook to impeach or discredit another party. A party can also serve requests to obtain your electronically stored information, including your email.

While the courts may require proof of at least some facts in order to obtain private social media information, you should be mindful that attempts will be made to obtain that information, as well.  You should never post anything publicly that discusses your health, location, or other private information.

Remember, there is no constitutional right to privacy or any privilege that prohibits discovery of a party’s social media activity, and material found on the public portions of one’s social media sites is discoverable.

The bottom line is that you need to be careful about social media if you are involved in a personal injury suit. If you must post, do not post personal information about yourself or alert your followers that you are “going on vacation” or “feeling happy,” etc.

Even harmless comments like that will be used to show that you are engaging in activities which are contrary to your claims. Finally, you should avoid posting photos. In fact, we recommend that you shut down your social media in the event of a lawsuit.

To communicate, consider trying the old-fashioned way by actual conversation or use private sources if you must use social media. But remember, be mindful of all your activities.

Once you file suit, you and your digital footprint will be investigated. And every posting you have made is evidence that can and will be used against you.

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George Saba, who has been named a Super Lawyer 15 times, assists clients with litigation, personal injury, professional liability and insurance coverage matters.

Results matter at Dischell Bartle Dooley, a full-service law firm with offices in Lansdale, Pottstown and Boyertown. Dischell Bartle Dooley attorneys have been helping clients with complex litigation matters, including personal injury cases, since 1977.

Click here to learn more about their commitment to results or call 215-362-2474 today to talk with an attorney. 

 

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