Archive for December, 2011

Court Orders Personal Injury Claimant to Give Facebook Access to Insurance Carrier

By Gary E. Adams

Monday, December 5th, 2011

A woman injured in an auto accident in Pennsylvania was ordered by the judge hearing her civil lawsuit for personal injuries to turn over her Facebook user name and password to the attorneys defending her personal injury claim.  The attorneys representing the insurance carrier for the defendant  discovered that the plaintiff had a Facebook account, and found pictures of her that they felt were inconsistent with her allegations in her personal injury claim.  The Judge’s ruling permitted the defendant to have access not only to her public profile, but to the private portion of her account.

The Court ruled, in the case of Largent v. Reed (Pa. Common Pleas Nov. 8, 2011) that the plaintiff had no expectation of privacy in her Facebook account, and that neither Federal or State law provided her with that right.

This case demonstrates the lengths to which insurance carriers will go to discourage claimants from pursuing their claims for injuries.  Surveillance, Index Bureaus containing a history of all claims ever filed by an individual and other methods of gathering personal information about claimants have long been in use.  Now, even areas of one’s life that were thought to be private are now fair game for insurance carriers, at least in Pennsylvania.

No doubt that enterprising defense lawyers in other states and in other types of claims (including workers’ compensation claims) will be using this case as a basis for obtaining this type of information.