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Your Claim and Facebook
When you file a personal injury claim the defense (the insurance adjustor or the insurance company lawyer) ask themselves: "How can we defeat this claim?"
They look at two ways to accomplish this. First, they look for ways to argue that the claim is bad because they weren't at fault. Second, they look for ways to argue that you, the claimant, don't deserve compensation because you weren't hurt as much as you are claiming and if you are exaggerating your claim, you are dishonest and don't deserve anything.
An old tool for discrediting the plaintiff is to hire a photographer or video photographer to sneak around following a claimant and take pictures. For example, the plaintiff claims he has severe back injury. So, the insurance company hires a video guy to catch him mowing his lawn or loading a heavy cooler into his car for picnic.
But, this kind of surveillance is expensive.
Now, along comes Facebook. The claimants post pictures of themselves looking athletic and healthy skiing or rock climbing. The claimants think the Facebook material is limited to their friends. But, in a lawsuit parties can be forced, under penalty of perjury, to produce things in their possession such as their Facebook pages. Not only that, but the insurance company may hire someone to hack into your Facebook account and copy your posts. Yes, that is illegal, but the insurance company may try to get the posts into evidence anyway, OR the insurance company may keep a favorable finding to themselves, share it with their attorney, and have their attorney keep digging in the litigation process to expose what they think is a fraud. AND IT MAY BE THAT YOUR BACK WAS REALLY HURT AND YOU TOOK A HIKE EVEN THOUGH IT HURT TO TRY AND CONQUER THE INJURY. HOWEVER, DO YOU WANT YOUR VIGOROUS HIKE TO BECOME AN ISSUE IN YOUR BACK INJURY CASE?
For the insurance companies the Facebook pages are wonderful. It hardly costs them anything to have their lawyer demand production of the claimant's Facebook pages.
The law on just what has to be produced from Facebook in a lawsuit is still getting made. But, you can bet the insurance companies are going to ask the Courts for as much as they can get that might possibly be used to discredit claimants.
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE NOW GOING AFTER THE FACEBOOK PAGES OF BOYFRIENDS, GIRLFRIENDS, FRIENDS, ACQUAINTANCES OF THE CLAIMANT. Maybe the claimant is smart enough to use discretion in Facebook posts. But maybe the boyfriend posts pictures of the claimant and himself climbing a mountain while the claimant claims terrible back injuries. And, perhaps, you truthfully admitted in your deposition that you have good and bad days with your back. So you went mountain climbing on a good day. Entirely possible! But, as they say a picture is worth a thousand words and that Facebook picture of you looking athletic and flexible doesn't help your case any.
And, of course, we are not just talking about Facebook. If the U.S. Government can't keep secrets you can bet anything you post to the net can be found by an insurance company determined to defeat or minimize your claim.