Facebook has been in the news lately, and not for a good reason. Facebook made the news after it was learned a third party was able to access and record people’s information. It seems Facebook, allegedly, failed to take proper precautions to guard against the copying of their users’ information. A lot of people are upset by this and understandably so. When it comes to social media we post images, updates and comments on our page or to a group of our friends and believe there is some sense of privacy that comes with our account. When it was revealed that third parties were collecting data on Facebook users, it infuriated a lot of people. In fact, even Congress and the UK Parliament are calling Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to testify before them.
Courts Are Allowing Insurance Companies to See Injury Victims Social Media Posts
While the general public may be in shock, this sort of information gathering is nothing new to injury victims. Florida courts have trended toward requiring injury victims to disclose their posts, regardless of what their privacy settings are set to.
In Nucci v. Target Corp., 162 So.3d 146 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015), the court denied a slip and fall victim’s appeal of a trial court order requiring her to produce photographs posted on social media for a period of 2 years prior to her slip and fall. In upholding the trial court’s order requiring the production, the Fourth District found that the photographs were neither privileged nor protected under any right of privacy – regardless of the user’s privacy setting on their social media page. As the court noted, social media photographs “are unlike medical records or communications with one’s attorney, where disclosure is confined to narrow, confidential relationships. Facebook itself does not guarantee privacy.”
More recently the same court, in Wright v Morsaw, et. al., No 4D17-0589 (December 13, 2017), upheld another trial court’s order requiring the production of social media posts made following a crash in which Wright was accused of a hit-and-run which resulted with the death of a pedestrian. With both civil and criminal cases moving forward at the same time, Wright sought to quash an order requiring the production of these posts claiming a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. In upholding the trial court’s order, the Fourth District found that it had not been shown that Wright was being compelled to share anything that he had not already posted publicly.
Another problem facing victims of slip and falls, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, or any other injury, is that as courts begin allowing insurance companies to access injury victim’s social media accounts, insurance companies have begun to learn how to weaponize this information. By looking through years of information, insurance companies can find a single post, or series of posts, to take out of context and argue that an injury victim is not as hurt as they claim. While this is almost never true, it is truly an effective tactic.
Despite all of this, there are still limitations on what is subject to discovery in court. Therefore it will continue to be a battle over what should be produced until more guidance is received.
There are ways to protect yourself, at least initially. You can begin by limiting who can view your social media pages and posts. Some social media platforms also allow the user to select an option which prohibits a tagged photograph, comment and/or post from appearing on the user’s page unless the user authorizes it.
No one wakes up one morning and knows they are going to be injured in a car accident, slip and fall, trucking accident or otherwise. Just be aware that if you are injured, your social media pages and posts may become discoverable and taken out of context to be used against you.
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Being injured does not mean you give up all of your privacy. While courts are trending to allow social media discovery there are limits. I fight for my client’s privacy.
If you have been injured call 407.216.2000 or click HERE for a free attorney case review. I have helped hundreds of injury victims find their justice and I would be honored to help you as well.
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For more information or to speak with a lawyer about your legal rights following an injury, call 407.216.2000 or email me at [email protected].
Presser Law, P.A. is a Central Florida injury firm proudly serving all injury victims throughout Central Florida residents of Brevard County, Lake County, Osceola County, Orange County, Seminole County, and Volusia County.
Presser Law, P.A. was founded on the idea that injury victims deserve aggressive and straight-forward representation to help them through some of their most difficult times. “Fighting For Justice. Fighting For You.” is more than a motto. It is our promise and reminder to our client’s that we will be with them, fighting to make sure they receive the compensation they deserve.