Beware personal injury and insurance clients when it comes to social media sites like FaceBook, MySpace,YouTube and many other sites which are popping up every day.
Posting personal information about yourself and your immediate family members including photographs or video can easily undermine plaintiffs’ lawsuits. Insurance companies and their investigators have become well versed in many techniques to weaken plaintiffs’ cases and social media has become a favourite investigative tool.
Ontario courts are more routinely ordering injured plaintiffs to produce their Facebook or other social media pages to insurance company lawyers. These courts have also recently admitted FaceBook pages into evidence.
Knowing very well that personal injury clients may continue to participate in these social media sites, it is important that they do so with advice. A good reminder to clients includes the following:
• If you do not wish your privacy to become part of your personal injury lawsuit, consider not starting up a social media page.
• If you are a member of a social media site, privacy settings should be checked. Social media sites will allow you to block certain people from seeing your information and sometimes when you are on-line.
• Avoid accepting friend requests. There is no way to ensure that the friend is someone who might be trying to gain access to your social media account.
• Searching your own name on popular search engines is the best way of knowing what investigators or other insurance personnel or their counsel will also see.
Remember others who view your social media sites will not know the context of your comments, photos or videos. A photo or video does not include how you may have been feeling hours before being captured or how you may have been feeling the following day. It also does not convey that you may have been under several pain pills to help you get through that specific occasion where you may have appeared to be having a good time.
Being informed about how social media and the law are entwined is very important for clients and lawyers alike.