In this internet age, I have found that many of my clients are using online social networking (OSN) sites to communicate with family and friends. FaceBook seems to be the most popular site, but MySpace, Twitter and Linkedin essentially provide the same features. I have a FaceBook account of my own, and enjoy using it to communicate with my oldest daughter who lives and works overseas since she graduated from college this year. She will often post pictures of her travels to different areas, and comment on her life for our family to enjoy.
My point in writing about these websites is that they all have a common thread: the information they contain is easily obtainable by the insurance company lawyers through a subpoena. I have been reading about cases in my legal journals where deserving plaintiffs have hurt their cases by sharing very personal thoughts about their case or their injuries on these OSN sites.
Although the typical way for insurance companies to obtain information is through the use of subpoenas after a lawsuit is started, from my perspective, the scary part of OSN sites is that with the click of a mouse just about any information can be uncovered. What this means is that you or your attorney may not necessarily know that posted information is being obtained by the insurance company.
The important point I’m trying to convey is this: Be careful with what you post in Cyberspace. Once it’s there, it’s almost impossible to retract. Avoid writing anything about your claim or lawsuit, or your injuries. If you do feel the need to write something, then always remember it can potentially become exhibit 1 against you at trial.
Here is a short list of my thoughts concerning social networking:
- Anything that you have posted or will post on a OSN may end up in the hands of the opposition.
- Check the privacy settings on your profile, and adjust them to prevent unwanted viewers from seeing it.
- Do not post anything to your profile that discusses your law suit or related injuries.
- Make every attempt to ensure your profile includes no photographs (posted by you or your friends) of you attempting to engage in any physical activities that you are now unable to do as a result of your injuries.
- Do not accept “friends” invitations from people you do not know. It is possible that someone working for the defendant may attempt to pose as a “friend.” That person may try to view your page to obtain incriminating evidence that could harm your chances of a successful recovery in your lawsuit. Review your “friends” list. If you do not know someone on the list, remove them from it.
The important thing to remember here is that social networking sites have the potential to do great harm to a case. As the law is still evolving in this area with respect to privacy rights, the best approach is to assume that the insurance company will get its hands on anything you put in Cyberspace.