Social Media Privacy Settings Do Not Offer Adequate Protection in a Personal Injury Case
Social media has become an extension of people’s lives, giving them a way to connect and stay in touch with family and friends. Of course, it does have its drawbacks. As an example, consider the negative impact that it can have on the victim of a personal injury case. Photos, posts, and even messages can be used as evidence to deny their claim or reduce their settlement. Changing one’s privacy settings may not offer protection either if the courts have reason to believe that “private” communications contain information that is relevant to the case.
Highest New York Court Allows Mining of Private Social Media Information
Victims of personal injury accidents used to be followed and investigated by private investigators that were hired by defending parties. The goal was to try and catch injured parties behaving in ways that contradicted their claims - so, for example, if someone said that an accident had resulted in excruciating pain that kept them from working, the investigator would try to catch them jogging, playing football with their kids, or cleaning their garage. In today's digital era, social media manages to make their jobs easier. In fact, insurance companies do not even need an investigator in some cases because they can quickly and easily find the information they need on an injured party's social media account.
People often post photos of themselves going on vacation or out on a walk with their dog, but if they have recently experienced an accident that limits their ability to work or lead a productive life, posting this information can nullify their claim. Changing the settings to private or sending the information privately through social media messaging systems does not necessarily hide this information from the courts either, which is what one New York woman recently learned.
After experiencing an accident, she claimed that to suffer from traumatic brain and spinal injuries that severely limited her ability to function. She claimed to have cognitive deficits, communication difficulties, and memory loss, which also caused her to also suffer from social isolation. She submitted social media photos to the courts as evidence of her active pre-accident lifestyle but told the courts that she could not remember if she had posted anything since the accident. She also allegedly deactivated her account six months after the accident had occurred.
Not satisfied with the data they had mined from her public settings, the defendant in her case asked the courts if they could access her private information. The district court conceded, saying that the information could be mined and presented as evidence, so long as it did not embarrass the victim (i.e. depictions of nudity, etc.). The victim appealed the decision in the Appellate Courts and won, but the defendant then took the case to the Court of Appeals. the Appellate Court’s decision, made partly upon Tapp v. New York State Urban Development Corp., 102 A.D.3d 620, was overturned. The Appeals Court said that any other ruling could allow people to change their settings and obstruct the discovery process.
Contact Our Appleton Personal Injury Lawyers Immediately After Your Accident
Scenarios like this occur frequently, and it is usually because victims do not recognize just how much data can be accessed in a personal injury case. Protect your right to full and fair compensation by calling our Appleton personal injury lawyers immediately after your accident. We can help you successfully navigate the claims process and its many nuances while you focus on recovery. Call 920-739-7366 to schedule your free consultation with us today.