Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Facebook Problem

One of the interesting aspects of our modern societies' fascination with social media is how that social media, particularly Facebook, is being used in litigation, specifically personal injury litigation and divorce/custody litigation.  A new tactic from insurance company defense lawyers that I've been seeing is them requesting to have access to plaintiff's Facebook account so that they can fish around in your posts, pictures and private communications with your Facebook friends.  An insurance defense lawyer is basically trying to find something that they can use against you in your personal injury case or  your workers' compensation case.  Although I don't do family law, this also occurs in divorce litigation and custody litigation.  All they need to do is to find some photo or comment that was posted by you or a friend and twist that to make you look bad.

One of the best pieces of advice that I can give to clients is to make sure that your Facebook profile security settings are as private as possible, particularly if you have a personal injury case like an auto accident case or a slip and fall or a defective product that has injured and disabled you.  This also applies to workers compensation cases.  These insurance defense lawyers will find any little piece of information or photograph that is posted by you or about you and twist it to make it seem like you are faking your injury.  It is difficult to defend against these requests, however, if your Facebook security profile is left open for the general public to see.  How can I go in front of the Judge and say that this is an invasion of your privacy when anyone can get on Facebook and see your entire life.  

Another sneaky trick that insurance defense lawyers like to do is to have their secretaries or paralegals "friend" you in order to get access.  However, this is a double edged sword.  There have been ethics decisions adverse to these insurance defense lawyers for basically sneaking around a persons' private life without them knowing and then using that information against them in court.  

The bottom line is that you have to be careful with who you friend and what type of security profiles that you use in your social media.  And most importantly, if you have a new personal injury case or workers compensation case or are involved in divorce litigation, be careful what you post on Facebook.  You truly don't know whose watching.

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