Court Orders Parties in a Slip-and-Fall Case to Hire a Neutral “Computer Expert” to Examine Plaintiff’s Facebook Page

People in Cape Cod, and throughout the world, are increasingly accessing the Internet for many different purposes. According to a 2010 report by the United States Department of Commerce, more than three-quarters, or 77 percent, of all American households had a computer at home. Technology offers countless benefits — from instant information to social media and access to movies and other forms of entertainment. But these advantages often come with a hefty price, namely, the potential loss of privacy, which many of us acknowledge and accept. Take a Facebook account, for instance. Although people can choose among various privacy settings from very private to “not-so-private,” simply having an account exposes a user’s privacy to some extent.

While privacy matters to most of us, it seems that people are forgoing certain privacy rights when they post information on their Facebook page. According to a recent American Bar Association Journal article, a judge in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has ordered parties in a slip-and-fall lawsuit to hire a “neutral forensic computer expert” to sift through a plaintiff’s Facebook account. In the personal injury case at issue, the plaintiff brought an action against Lancaster Regional Medical Center (the “LRMC”) and Hospital Housekeeping Systems, alleging that she slipped and fell in a puddle of liquid in an elevator at the LRMC.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff claims that she sustained serious injuries to her back and knee, requiring surgery that she is unable to afford. The defense argues that the plaintiff was photographed playing in the snow after the fall – and would not be able to have done so with the injuries that she is claiming to have. In fact, the defense asserts that the photographs of plaintiff exhibit “no visible indications of pain whatsoever.” In response, the plaintiff argues that the videos and photographs were taken before the slip and fall at the hospital. The court ordered limited discovery, granting the neutral expert authority to review the plaintiff’s private Facebook page for a limited time period of 17 days after the date of the alleged accident.

The article suggests that whether a person makes available information on their public page — has become the “predominant standard” among state court judges in deciding whether to grant or deny access to a person’s entire Facebook account. This evolving standard may cause people to think twice about what images they post to their public page.

Slip and fall cases can take many forms and cause many kinds of injuries. As in this case, there could be liquids that leaked onto a floor, debris left in store aisles or even a design defect as it relates to some equipment or structure. People can be seriously hurt in a slip and fall case. It is important to determine whether the negligence of another, be it a business owner or an individual, caused your accident to occur, and to be fully aware of all resulting injuries. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you are encouraged to contact a local personal injury attorney who has the experience to handle your case and achieve the maximum recovery for your damages.

The premises liability lawyers at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III are experienced and ready to help you with your slip and fall case.  For a free initial consultation, contact us at 888-262-6664 or online.

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