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How Can Fortnite, Facebook and Other Online Activities Destroy Your Personal Injury Case?

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It’s the age of the Internet.  Parents no longer need to mail their kids’ school picture to the grandparents … just post it on Facebook.  Gaming enthusiasts no longer need to gather at one place to play against each other … there are online games like Fortnite.  Need to express yourself?  Take your pick … Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, etc. … and the list goes on and on.  What exciting times.

In the current climate of online convenience, it is easy to forget that the online activities you are performing, in the privacy of your home, are permanent and discoverable.  Really … forever.

In the landmark case of Nucci v. Target Corporation, the Plaintiff sued Target Corporation for injuries she suffered due to a slip and fall.  During the course of litigation, Target Corporation requested that she hand over all pictures she posted on Facebook.  The Plaintiff objected claiming the request was overbroad, burdensome and that it violated her right of privacy.  The Trial Court did not agree with her objections and the Plaintiff appealed.  The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court which forced the Plaintiff to turn over her Facebook photos.  One of the reasons that led to the Court’s decision was that what individuals post on social media is highly relevant to a fact-finder in an injury case.  In other words, the pictures or activities that an individual posts may paint a picture of how the injured’s life is after an accident.  The Appellate Court further stated that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when an individual chooses to share his/her information on social media.

So remember, if you take away only one thing from this article … that is to remember that all online activity is permanent and discoverable. This even includes the situation when you set your  “privacy settings” to “Friends Only.” And here is the scary thing, in certain instances, even private messages or chats must be produced.

Here are examples of online activities that can negatively affect your case:

Online Gaming:  Claimant is in a car accident and suing for back injuries yet online activities show that he was able to sit and play Fortnite for 6 hours a day.

Facebook Posts: Claimant slipped and fell at a grocery store suing for permanent injuries yet posted a status on Facebook saying, “Just fell while grocery shopping but thank goodness I’m ok.”

Instagram Posts: Claimant is going through negotiations for personal injury settlements and posts vacation pictures of him riding a dirt bike showing he is able to perform activities involving body parts he claims is injured.

To learn more, please contact Hogan & Hogan at 407.422.2188 or email us at admin@hoganlegal.com.

Thien-Vu Hogan
Thien-Vu Hogan
Attorney Thien-Vu Hogan is the founding and managing partner of Hogan & Hogan.