I represented a young woman who suffered a serious personal injury to her back and shoulder when a careless driver crashed into her car on I-95. After we filed suit, the insurance company's lawyer told me that he knew a secret about my client, but he would not tell me what he knew. My client and I poured over everything we could think of and there was nothing there. Finally, the insurance company lawyer told me that he had photos from my client's Facebook account that would prove that she hadn't been hurt.
Most of the photos showed my client smiling with friends which the insurance company's lawyer thought meant that she could not be hurt. The photo the insurance company attorney thought proved his case showed my client on a boat. My client was smiling next to a fish that had been caught and was being held up for the photo. As soon as my client and I saw the photo, it was clear that a person outside the frame of the photo was holding the fish and that it didn't prove anything about my client. The alarming thing was that the insurance company brought a motion to have the Court order, based on these innocent photos, that my client should have to give the insurance company complete access to her Facebook account.
Insurance companies argue that Facebook and other social media, even when set to private, should be revealed to them to allow a full investigation into injury claims.
This tactic of insurance companies making overly broad requests related to social media accounts is intended to intimidate Plaintiffs and convince them to drop suits or settle them.
We counsel all of our clients to take a break from all social media use while their claim is pending. It is hard advice for many of our clients to follow because social media is deeply engrained in their lives.