Judge Rules that Private Facebook Photos are Relevant to Case

Judge Rules that Private Facebook Photos are Relevant to Case

Tamara Fric, a B.C. woman injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2008, must hand over her private Facebook photos to be reviewed against her claim for damages.  Keith Fraser of The Province reports:

Fric, who has 890 Facebook friends with access to the private content on her site as well as 759 digital photos and a video, is in possession of a total of 12,000 photos, though it wasn’t clear whether all of the photos were stored electronically, the court heard.

The defendants claimed that Fric’s Facebook profile and various photos are relevant to her claim for both ongoing physical impairment and also a plea of loss of amenities of life.

She argued, however, that the defence request for disclosure was overly broad and not substantiated by the evidence and that her right to privacy and those of others would be breached by the disclosure.

But in a ruling released Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Master Carolyn Bouck concluded that some of the photos, including those on her private Facebook profile, should be disclosed.

“Photographs which show the plaintiff engaging in a sporting or physical recreational activity – from hiking to scuba diving to curling to dancing – are relevant in discovering the plaintiff’s physical capacity since the accident,” she said.”I do not agree with the plaintiff’s submission that such information is only relevant when there is a claim or evidence of total disability.”

Using social media to mine for evidence against plaintiffs in disability, personal injury or MVA cases has become a common legal practice not only in British Columbia, but all of Canada.

It should make any individual involved in such litigation think before posing for photos that will inevitably find their way on the Internet. Even innocent status updates can have a significant influence on the outcome of your claim.

If you do not have a Facebook account, be mindful of the fact that your family and friends probably do and may post photos of you without your permission.

The best way to avoid a ruling similar to Fric’s is to consider how every one of your words and actions could be construed in the context of your claim.

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