We've previously discussed how injury clients need to be cautious when posting to social media. A Florida appeals court recently showed why this is important. In Nucci v. Target Corp., the Florida Court of Appeals ruled that an injury plaintiff had to disclose over 1200 photos on her Facebook page, even though her privacy settings were set to "Friends Only".
The court rejected the argument that the "Friends Only" setting created a reasonable expectation of privacy in the photos. Target had an investigator perform surveillance on the plaintiff, and took pictures of her "carrying heavy bags, jugs of water, and doing other physical acts, suggesting that her claim of serious personal injury is suspect." The court pointed to this evidence in ruling that the photos must be turned over. The court stated:
People involved in a lawsuit should pay attention to this case for a couple of reasons:
- Social media accounts are, by definition, designed to share personal information. So, that information isn't private.
- In lawsuits, corporations and insurance companies will go to great lengths to try and prove someone is a liar. Even if a plaintiff tried an activity she formerly enjoyed just one time and had problems afterwards, defense lawyers will use a photo of the activity to try and prove the plaintiff is faking.
- Context for posts is important. People usually want to present their best outward appearance to friends on social media.
This last part is crucially important. Just like in real life, most folks don't run on and on about the bad parts of their lives on social media — otherwise they would be defriended or blocked. It can be explained like this (warning: mild language):
If people involved in lawsuits post stuff on Facebook, defense lawyers will present small snapshots of a person's life and represent those as the average of a person's life, rather than the "best of" snapshots they really are.
We advise clients to limit posts to social media to avoid these problems during insurance claims and lawsuits.