Last Updated: April 17th, 2020 at 8:20 pm
Read Time: 5 Minutes
Incriminating Evidence on... Instagram?There are currently over 1 billion users on the photo and videosharing app Instagram, with over 800 million users actively posting, liking, or commenting each month. In total, 71 percent of Americans now use the platform, and 60 percent are logging in daily. In fact, users are uploading over 95 million photos each day. But, are some of these photos actually make or breaking personal injury cases? According to a recent New York personal injury case, they can and they will.
An Accident Attorney's Review: Smith v. PasqualeAfter suffering injuries in an auto accident which caused an alleged loss of enjoyment of life, plaintiff Christina Smith proceeded to post photos and a video to her then-public Instagram account. The posts depicted the young woman engaging in various activities, including rock climbing and walking along a boardwalk. In her lawsuit, Smith claimed that the injuries she sustained to her spine and her knee caused pain and suffering as well as loss of enjoyment of life. Frank Pasquale, one of two defendants in the case, moved to admit on the basis that if the Instagram posts do depict Smith, that her injuries are not as severe as she claims. Pasquale also sought the admission that Smith changed her account from public to private at some point after the accident. Smith's legal representation did not answer Pasquale's motion to admit, and instead responded with a motion for a protective order. Bronx Supreme Court Justice John Higgitt denied the motion, finding that the motion to admit concerns "clear-cut matters of fact" - either Smith has an Instagram account she's posted to, or she doesn't. If admitted as evidence, these incriminating posts can serve a detrimental blow to Smith's case. So, what do we think of social media being used as evidence against a claimant in a case? Is it fair? Let's take a look.
A Decades-Old Tactic Reaches the Modern AgeThe bottom line is, insurance companies and the defense for the defendant have been attempting to dig up dirt on plaintiffs for years. This tactic is nothing new. The last few years have seen an increase in the aggressiveness of insurance companies when it comes to defeating personal injury claims. While we often picture surveillance as a shady effort as part of some organized crime prosecution, insurance companies have begun to rely more frequently on surveillance to help them dismiss claims.It might not seem right that insurance companies can essentially spy on someone who was injured by an accident that their insured caused. However, as unfair as it may sound, the law actually does allow insurance companies to engage in limited surveillance. Insurance companies are legally able to:
- Take audio
- Shoot video
- Take still photography