Lawyers issue Facebook warning
POSTING party or sport photos on Facebook could put injury compensation claims in jeopardy.
Compensation lawyer Mark O'Connor, from Brisbane-based Bennett and Philp Lawyers, said people seeking compensation for an accident injury might derail their claims if they posted photos of themselves playing sport or taking part in physical activity which might appear at odds with their claimed condition.
He said warnings about postings on Facebook and other social media were becoming a standard legal issue now.
"We know insurance company lawyers check the Facebook pages of people making injury claims, looking for evidence inconsistent with the claimed injury," he said.
"We are advising clients to make sure they do not post things which might be interpreted the wrong way and complicate or derail their claims."
The firm now includes a Facebook warning sheet with the information pack it sends to every new client and Mr O'Connor said this sort of client caution was becoming more widely used with some criminal defence lawyers doing it too.
"It is now a common practice for insurers and their solicitors to investigate claimants' social networking sites, of which Facebook is the best known," the firm's client caution states.
"You need to be very cautious about what you place on Facebook. If you advise medical practitioners, the insurer and us that you suffer from various complaints or difficulties, but then conflicting information or photos are found on
Facebook, or similar, then it will open the way for the insurer to launch an attack on your credibility," the warning states.
Mr O'Connor said an example would be someone telling doctors they suffered from serious back pain then posting photos on Facebook of themselves dancing at a party.
"The fact you were drunk and suffered agonies the next day is secondary to what the photos might appear to show," he said.
"It's about clients not posting things that could be interpreted the wrong way."
But Mr O'Connor said the social media warning was not about clients advancing bogus claims.
"It's about how a genuine claim could be challenged by insurers if a person claims one thing then post images or information which might seem to contradict the state of their injury," he said.
"We tell every new client now not to put themselves in a position where they have to explain their social media appearances to an insurer," he said.