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7 Reasons Why You Should Be Careful When Using Facebook
If you have a Disability or Accident claim, below are 7 reasons why you should be careful when using Facebook.
Staying connected to family and friends after an injury or in the face of a disabling condition is really important but there are some things that you should keep in mind while using social networking sites.
1. Insurance companies are monitoring
If you have made a claim for Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits, or benefits after a Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA), you can be sure that your own insurance company is monitoring the Internet for information that they can use to deny or terminate your claim. Yes, your own insurance company will be investigating you!
2. A picture is worth a thousand words
You have heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words – this is especially true when it comes to Facebook. A single image of you smiling, or being active conveys a bunch of assumptions about you, including that you are healthy, happy and not disabled or in pain. This is powerful evidence in the hands of an insurer and can be used very successfully at Court.
3. Insurance companies can get access even if blocked
Even if you restrict your Facebook posts to your friends and family, the insurance company may still be able to gain access. They will have a lawyer who may bring a motion at Court, asking for access to your private Facebook posts. In Ontario, the Rules of Civil Procedure require that every party disclose every relevant document unless privilege is being claimed. A document is defined as a sound recording, videotape, film, photograph, chart, graph, map, plan, survey, book of account and data and information in electronic form. Information contained on social networking sites would constitute a document.
4. You can’t control what others post about you
Even if you do not post any photographs of yourself on vacation, participating in a sport or socializing, it is still possible that someone else may “tag” you in a post or post something on your wall that could be harmful to your claim for benefits.
5. It isn’t just your photographs
With access to your Facebook account, an insurance company or opposing counsel can gain access to a list of your friends, any of whom will have their Facebook account which may contain photos or videos of you.
6. Time spent on Facebook
If you spend a lot of time on Facebook, you will give your insurance company some evidence that speaks to your ability to work at a computer and do a sedentary job.
7. Once it is out there, it can still harm you, even if you remove it
Often, a Court will order that a Plaintiff or Claimant preserve and maintain the Facebook profile until it can be copied. If the Facebook profile is deleted, then a Judge can draw an adverse inference about what was contained on it.
Patricia Santucci is a personal injury lawyer born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. She holds several degrees having attended King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of Windsor and an Ontario Teaching Degree from Teacher’s College as well as her Ontario Teaching Certificate. After graduating from the University of Alberta law school she was called to the bar in 2000. You can find Patricia on Google+ and LinkedIn or directly through this website