Facebook Could Jeopardise Your Claim!
Facebook. Millions of people across the globe are members. These days its a standard form of communication an immediate way to share information with others about whats going on in your life, with photo evidence.
All hail modern technology for helping us keep in touch. But theres something you should know. If youre involved in legal proceedings of any kind, what you put on your Facebook page (or other social networking sites) may come back to bite you. Hard.
Todays insurance investigators have a pretty cushy job. It used to be that theyd follow a claimant around in a van with tinted windows taking hours of video footage in the hope of catching them out doing something they said they couldnt do due to an injury (eg. a work accident, motor vehicle accident or slip and fall.) Now all an investigator has to do is to google you and access your Facebook page.
Accessing online information about you isnt that hard. For a start, many people dont make use of Facebooks optional privacy settings. If your profile is public (ie. your privacy settings are set to everyone) then insurers can read your comments, see your photos and your friends. They might access your friends pages for dirt on you, or approach them to provide information about you. However innocently supplied, that information could be unhelpful to your claim.
Comments written in jest, exaggerations these could be used as evidence against you.
And its not only personal injury claims you should be concerned about. People have been sacked for things theyve written on Facebook that contravene their work contract. Parents could potentially lose child custody battles for posting information about wild nights out and drug-use, along with the photographic evidence. Commercial disputes might be affected by a casual comment posted to a friend about the case.
According to Sydney barrister Andrew Stone, In any form of litigation you should assume your opponent will google every witness on your side. Assume theyll look at Facebook. Assume that everything thats online is in their hands. This has become standard practice.
In the USA and Canada, Judges have actually ordered claimants to hand over access to their Facebook accounts so that any information relevant to their case can be scrutinised. So even if a claimant had Facebooks maximum privacy settings, insurers or prosecutors have the green light to pore over their private communications.
The moral is this dont put anything on Facebook that you wouldnt want the public to know about. Dont friend just anyone (could be a dodgy insurance investigator), make sure your privacy settings are at the highest possible level, and importantly, never assume that taking these steps guarantees your privacy.
Ultimately, choosing to post your life online carries risk.