“Private” postings on Facebook may not be so private in a personal injury lawsuit
As widely reported last week, there are rumours that some private messages of Facebook users have been made public through the introduction of the Timeline feature. Whether or not the rumour is true, it does serve as a reminder to all social media users to consider what they are posting online and to think carefully about their privacy settings. For car accident victims or anyone making a disability insurance claim, this is especially critical as postings on Facebook and other social networking sites can potentially impact their lawsuit.
Once you have discussed the details of your accident, condition or treatment online, you have given up any claim that may have existed for solicitor client privilege. In practice, what this means is that if these postings are relevant to the lawsuit, they will likely have to be provided to the other side in the lawsuit. Read our blog Facebook, Confidentiality and Your Car Accident for more details about solicitor client privilege.
Some people might be under the impression that as long as they adjust their privacy settings and only allow certain friends to view their photographs and discussions, they will not have to provide these postings to the other party in the lawsuit.
A recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court confirms that, at least in the circumstances of that case, photographs of the Plaintiff involved in activities and social events, including ones posted in the “private” section of her facebook account had to be listed on her Affidavit of Documents. Read the entire decision at this link.
While it is always the case that relevant documents have to be produced in a lawsuit and a Plaintiff should not delete postings to avoid them being produced, we echo the suggestion of David Bilinsky that the safest course of action is to stop posting to any social media sites from the time of the injury until the lawsuit has been settled.
If you have been involved in a car or motorcycle accident or are making a claim under a short or long-term disability insurance policy, contact one of our Ontario’s Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss how to protect yourself and ensure you are receiving the maximum compensation.