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The Potential Dangers of Social Networking Accounts

It is very important that you understand that the defense lawyer and/or insurance companies will probably try to access your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Snapshot, Vine, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other "social networking" accounts.

The defense lawyers and insurance companies will Google your name and social networking sites may come up in their search. If you have a social networking account (eg, a Facebook account), please note that EVERYTHING posted on your account is potentially discoverable by the other side.

EVEN IF YOU SET UP YOUR ACCOUNT FOR MAXIMUM PRIVACY, DO NOT THINK THAT THIS WILL PREVENT THE DEFENSE LAWYERS AND INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM ACCESSING YOUR ACCOUNT. THE DEFENSE LAWYERS MAY GET A COURT ORDER FORCING YOU TO DISCLOSE ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH:

  • YOUR PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL CONDITION, BEFORE AND AFTER YOUR INJURIES;
  • YOUR PHOTOS BEFORE AND AFTER YOUR INJURIES; AND
  • YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT THE INCIDENT, YOUR CARE AND TREATMENT, YOUR LAWYER, THE DEFENSE LAWYER, THE INSURANCE COMPANY, THE DEFENDANT, YOUR WITNESSES AND EXPERTS AND THE DEFENSE WITNESSES AND EXPERTS

You may feel that the defense lawyer/insurance company accessing your social networking sites to try to use the information against you is very unfair, and an invasion of your privacy. You're not alone. Some judges, however, rationalize that if you post information on a site which allows access by the "public", the information you post in no longer "private" and it may be used against you in Court.

As an example, you may have posted photographs on your wall, emailed a friend about your case, or discussed your injuries in a message via Facebook. All of these photos, messages, and posts may be discoverable by opposing counsel and potentially used against you in court.

We had a case in which a judge ordered us to produce our client's Facebook account for inspection by the judge to see if any information were relevant to the case, and should be disclosed to the defense. This included our client's messages sent to friends on Facebook even though the messages were not posted on her wall. You may be surprised to know that your hotmail, gmail, yahoo and other email accounts may be sources of information for defense counsel to find messages in which you have commented on your injuries or the case.

If you have a social networking account, please use discretion and encourage your friends to use discretion regarding what they post or email about you with social networking. If you don't have a social networking account but would like to establish such an account, we would encourage you not to do so until after your case is resolved.

If you have questions regarding your social networking or internet use, please call Gaddis, Kin, Herd & Craw, P.C. at (719) 249-6240.