To the Injured Worker: Be Careful -- You May Be On Candid Camera
Nothing has changed communication more profoundly than social media. Electronic platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email, text messaging, and Instagram are easily accessible on computers or smart phones and allow an individual to communicate to hundreds or thousands of people with just the click of a button.
This modern phenomenon presents significant potential dangers to a workers’ compensation claimant. O.C.G.A. § 9-11-26 (b) makes this information potentially discoverable in the litigation process. The Code provides that any party may obtain discovery regarding any matter that, not privileged, is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”
While there are objections that can be raised to prevent the injured worker from being required to turn over the contents of their social media accounts, the claimant must be aware that the court could order that this material be produced to opposing parties in any claim or lawsuit. This means that anything posted on any social media platform, or sent to anyone via text message or electronic mail, can be exposed and used against you.
Even if a claimant is not ordered by the court to produce the contents of social media accounts, there is always the danger that someone else linked to the claimant (i.e. a social media “friend” or contact) can leak potentially harmful information to adverse parties, including photos, statements, videos, or textual information that has been sent.
BE CAREFUL AND BE SMART! With the evolving, fast-paced world of social media, litigants are advised, at the very least, to set all social media profiles to the most secure and secret settings; however, it is best to completely disengage from social media until your claim has been completed. Don’t be caught on Candid Camera!