Many people have referred to social media as the new surveillance. Lawyers for insurance companies are often trolling social media websites like Facebook to find any information on injured individuals which they believe could undermine their claim. The question of whether the contents of a Plaintiff’s personal Facebook must be disclosed is one that courts have wrestled with over the years. The courts have to balance the rights of insurance companies to relevant information with a victim’s right to privacy.
In a recent personal injury case, Hideq v. Evans, the judge further clarified when a Facebook page is producible in a court action. The judge stated that it must be proven that the Facebook page is relevant in order to be disclosed. He found that the two affidavits filed by the Defendants were silent on that issue expect to some reference to her examination for discovery and some photographs on the profile. The Plaintiff stated that page had photos posted by her children of her before and after the accident but showed “nothing special” in terms of activities. They did not depict any strenuous activities. The judge found that those photos were of little relevance to the issue in dispute and there was no evidence that the disclosure of her private profile would add more. The judge dismissed the motion and ordered that the Facebook pages were not relevant.
Given the possibility that the courts may continue to allow Facebook production requests, one should be aware that everything that gets posted may eventually have to be produced to defense counsel and it is prudent to revise your privacy settings to prevent access by the public.
We hope that this decision will enable accident victims to continue to use Facebook which is often a major source of communication because their physical mobility is restricted without being concerned that their privacy may be compromised.
Contact one of our Ottawa lawyers today for a free consultation if you or a family has been injured in a serious car accident. McNally Gervan Lawyers is located in Ottawa and represents individuals who have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries. And yes, McNally Gervan can also be found on Facebook.