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Last month, Facebook came under fire when a Canadian whistleblower exposed a massive data breach. The breach, which allowed a third party company to access the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users, is one of the largest in the history of the company, and it has many people choosing to log out for good.

Whether users are choosing to give up Facebook or not, the reality is that everyone is going to be paying closer attention to the personal information Facebook, and other social media and internet giants have access to. How much information is that currently? The results are unsettling.

Just recently, CBC released a story that showed just how much personal information Google has on us. From our search history (yes, even the Incognito ones) to places we’ve physically travelled to, it seems as though Google has been storing an awful lot on us over the years.

So what does this tell us? Something that we’ve probably known all along. That everything we do online leaves a footprint. Even if we can’t see it, chances are that somebody, somewhere can.

It may be an unsettling truth, but it’s also a reminder to be cautious when posting online, especially if you are involved in a personal injury case.

Social Media and Personal Injury Cases

What you post on social media can directly affect the outcome of your personal injury case. Let’s say, for example, you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, and you’ve filed a claim to receive compensation for your injuries. Just a few days after filing that claim, you post a video on Facebook of you riding your bike, a photo of you swimming, or even just a status update saying you had a great night out with friends. This kind of information can do some major damage to your case even if it is not directly related to your injuries.

Who Can Access Your Information

When we discuss social media with clients who are in the midst of a personal injury claim, we often hear this common line: I don’t have to worry about that, only my friends can see what I post online. While your privacy settings may be locked down, you should assume that information you post online can be found, regardless of privacy settings.

The reality is that insurance companies can hire investigators to monitor you and your social media pages. These investigators won’t give up simply because they can’t access your page. Instead, they’ll find other ways to access your profile information. One tactic is to ‘friend’ you with a fake account. If you accept, thinking perhaps they are an old high school friend, they can access your information and file away any evidence they find.

In other cases, the defendant may just cut right to the chase and request a court order to access your social media profile. The party seeking your online information may be successful if they can show that there is evidence supporting an inference that relevant information is contained in private online accounts. If it can, you may be required to hand over both public and private information from your social media pages.

Conclusion

What has recent news stories taught us about social media and personal injury cases? That it’s always best to avoid social media altogether when you are involved in a personal injury case. Even if the video, picture or post you want to publish seems insignificant to your injuries and your case, it’s just not worth the risk. Our recommendation is to steer clear of social media until after your case has been decided.

Contact Harrison Pensa

If you or someone you know has sustained injuries due to the negligence of another person or party, contact our experienced lawyers at Harrison Pensa today. Not only will we assess your situation, build your case and fight to get you the compensation you deserve, we’ll also guide you through the legal process and advise you on some of the “grey” areas like social media. Get in touch today to schedule your free consultation.

A word from our clients

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"My wife was involved in a very serious motor vehicle collision several years ago, and luckily she survived, but unfortunately she suffered some injuries."
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January 8, 2016

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HARRISON PENSA ™ is a full-service law firm representing private & business interests throughout southwestern Ontario.

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