I recently attended a deposition taken of my client by an attorney representing the defendant's insurance company. The client had sustained a neck injury in a motor vehicle accident and was still experiencing significant pain symptoms and receiving treatment at the time of the deposition.
Unbeknownst to me, the client had placed a post on a MySpace page detailing a weekend at a well-known amusement park where the client had ridden on one or more roller coaster rides which had thereafter caused additional neck pain.
Unbeknownst to the client, the insurance company’s investigation unit had accessed the webpage and, as a result, their attorney confronted her with those statements at the deposition. The potential detrimental effects upon her case are obvious.
In a more recent auto accident case which is now in litigation, I received from the defense attorney, as part of the initial discovery requests, a detailed interrogatory question asking my clients to supply information regarding any and all social network sites they have maintained at any time, along with user names and passwords.
Since I do believe this request to be overly invasive, I will object to providing that information absent a court order, but do not be surprised if the Courts do require at least limited compliance with such requests in the future.
Please accept this as a cautionary tale that most of what is posted online is neither private nor secure. I have sent correspondence to all of my personal injury clients reminding them that the insurance company investigators and attorneys do not care in what particular context a comment may be made or a photograph posted. Rest assured that, come time of deposition, mediation, or trial, the comment and/or photo will be used to cast doubts upon both the validity and extent of the personal injury claim at issue.