Facebook Photos Could Derail Plaintiff’s Injury Claim

    May 1, 2012
    Drew Bowling
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Here’s another sticky legal question that wouldn’t have existed prior to 2004: a Canadian woman has been ordered by the Supreme Court of British Columbia to submit her personal photos from Facebook as evidence to be used in a damages claim.

Tamara Fric is seeking compensation for injuries received in a car accident in 2008 that she says has impaired her quality of life and ability to work. According to The Province, Fric’s been asked to share her photos from Facebook because the defendants in the case claim that Fric posted photos or was tagged in photos after the accident that depict her enjoying an active lifestyle, such as wakeboarding and hiking and other activities that could conflict with any claim of impairment and lessened enjoyment of life as a result of the accident.

As recently as a month after the car accident, Fric participated in a recreational sports tournament conducted by the law school she attended. She says that her participation was limited due to the injuries sustained in the accident and that requiring her to share the photos of the law school event and her post-accident vacations is a breach of her privacy. However, British Columbia Supreme Court Master Carolyn Bouck ruled that some of the those photos were relevant to her damages claim and that they should therefore be disclosed.

“Photographs which show the plaintiff engaging in a sporting or physical recreational activity – from hiking to scuba diving to curling to dancing – are relevant in discovering the plaintiff’s physical capacity since the accident,” Bouck said.

“I do not agree with the plaintiff’s submission that such information is only relevant when there is a claim or evidence of total disability.”

Bouck found, however, that the order sought by the defendants was overly broad and limited the disclosure to the photos taken of Fric participating in the Law Games and on vacations since the accident.

On Fric’s Facebook page, she appears to be out and about enjoying an evening but there’s no indication of when the photo was taken. As you and me and everybody else would do in her situation, the account has a pretty tight lock on it so nobody outside of her approved friends can see her profile. Further, just because she looks like she’s having fun in her sole viewable picture doesn’t mean it’s a recent photo. Additionally, her long-term injuries could come and go, like how a neck injury could lead to migraines over time.

Any thoughts on the judge ordering a Facebook user to submit personal photos as evidence in a lawsuit? Yea or nay? Let us know what you think below.

  • Craig

    I say Nay!

    Since this happened four years ago, you’ve got to assume that the pictures posted after four years ago are the most recent. Sure, “assuming” may not hold up in court, but her comments that were made on the photo(s), her statuses, etc can be a piece of evidence to prove there has been no ongoing impairment.

    What’s not clear is how the defendants had access to her private page, and how they were able to come up with a claim. But also, Fric could very well submit pictures that are not on her page. She could avoid showing all of the photos subequent to her accident. But turning this back around, maybe one of her facebook “friends” was able to capture the photos and may testify as a “witness” proving the photos had been uploaded on a date after the car accident.

    These are challenging cases, and this is the problem with “cyber evidence”. To really prove these things you would need computer forensics, and since this is civil court, nobody is going to waste the time and money to got through those measures. Since money is involved, they both would need to get an attorney on this becuase it’s too fuzzy with how far both can go.

    I think Fric is asking for too much. If she has medical records proving impairment, then she can seek damages, and the defandant should pay just for that. Otherwise, she has no case.

  • http://www.webpronews.com/author/drew-bowling Drew Bowling

    I just presumed that the defendants found the page when it had less security restrictions and Fric battened up the hatches after their find.