Facebook and Car Accident Injury Cases
Law.com has a good summary of a car accident case and whether or not Facebook postings are discoverable in accident cases. This hasn’t come up in any Oklahoma cases (yet).
The case involved an auto accident back in May ’07. The insurance company defending the case was Allstate (well, technically, the attorneys they pay). Remember that a jury doesn’t get to know who’s paying the defense attorney and who will be paying any judgment (in reality it’s almost always that person’s insurance company).
The Allstate attorneys in the case were hellbent on getting access to the plaintiff’s Facebook pictures. The attorneys argued that they needed the pictures to show what the plaintiff looked like before the accident (even though they already had pictures of her).
Liability was admitted, so the issue for the jury to decide was “how much did the plaintiff’s damages add up to?” (the airbag deployed during the wreck and the plaintiff suffered scars from the lacerations and resulting 95 stitches on her face).
The Pennsylvania court ruled that the plaintiff didn’t need to turn over the photos.
Some thoughts on the case:
- Note that the car accident was in May of 2007! Even though the case was clear/admitted liability, Allstate was still fighting the claim four years later.
- Admitted liability cases can be tricky/annoying for jurors: they generally aren’t allowed to hear if the property damage was settled and who’s actually paying the bills. Also remember that the plaintiff will generally need to repay anything that was paid by their health insurance company.
- Insurance companies and their attorneys will go out of there way to poke holes in car accident cases
- This reiterates the point that personal injury claimants should be truthful throughout the whole process.