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These days with the Internet and social media becoming an integral part of our day to day lives, people have become accustomed to instant gratification. A person could potentially meet the love of his or her life with the simple click of the mouse or the press of button using social media or popular dating apps, with virtually no physical contact. Unfortunately, this makes us vulnerable to being “catfished” along the way.
A catfish is person who pretends to be someone they are not online in order to extort or bully another person by means of a deceptive romance. Whatever the motivation may be, whether it is loneliness, boredom, revenge, financial gain, identity theft or other fraud, these online scammers seeking virtual love create fake identities on social networking and dating websites.
By creating these false online profiles, these scammers prey on their unsuspecting targets by emotional manipulation. Be aware of some of the common signs and risks:
Navigating the internet and all of the resources which are available can be daunting and dangerous if one is not careful and mindful. However becoming aware of those risk factors and taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself will make it easier to find your true match and save yourself heartache along the way.
Liability matters require exceptional attention to detail. Whether the liability pertains to a traffic accident, trip and fall incident or some other personal injury matter, a thorough investigation is essential to effectively capture the big picture and develop a 360 ° perspective of the case.
Onsite investigations allow one to assess the site of the incident for the particular circumstances surrounding and attributing to a claim. For instance, in an auto accident, the investigator can observe the pattern and flow of traffic in the area, check for potential blind spots, observe the posted speed limit and note any surveillance cameras that may have captured the incident on video. Photographs taken on site can be beneficial in capturing the placement and perspectives of the parties involved. These tactics can help better visualize how the incident might have transpired.
Canvassing the neighborhood and speaking to neighbors or other individuals in the area who may have witnessed the incident can prove beneficial to a case. Speaking with these potential witnesses can help identify what transpired during the incident and may help identify additional leads for information about the situation.
Often times a more thorough set of witness statements need to be obtained to document what occurred from various perspectives. By conducting a thorough onsite investigation, the investigator can construct appropriate interview questions for those identified witnesses.
The information gathered from a thorough onsite investigation, neighborhood canvass and carefully conducted witness statements can be used to consider the next course of action on the case. This can include conducting background investigations, locating and serving documents to involved parties, obtaining records such as traffic collision reports, surveillance footage, 911 response calls and preserving relevant, publically available, online content.
Conducting onsite investigations, neighborhood canvasses and witness statements in the early stages of a case is essential. Early investigations allow the preservation of information and evidence while it still exists or while it is still remembered clearly. If fact finding is deferred to when a case goes to trial, it is highly likely that the conditions have changed: witnesses moved, buildings and structures have changed or no longer exist, surveillance footage may have been recorded over, witness recollection may be less clear and online content could have been removed or limited. Therefore, it is important to note that early and thorough onsite investigations, along with preserving witness statements, is a good foundation of any case. ~
Keystone Investigative Services understands insurance claims and the legal process. We conduct thorough onsite investigations to document, secure resources, locate witnesses and obtain statements professionally and efficiently. Contact our office today for a complementary strategy session and quote. (626) 676-5170, www.keystoneis.com
A monumental case in January of last year, titled Nucci v. Target Corp., set a precedence on social media in discovery. This case highlighted the idea that the fact finder has a right to inspect activities before and after an incident. This included content that may be marked as “private” on a person’s social media profile.
In personal injury cases, when the plaintiff alleges “pain and suffering” or “emotional distress,” comments and photos on social media could disprove the alleged harms. This therefore makes those posts potentially relevant. In this particular case, Maria Nucci claimed that she suffered personal injuries and emotional distress from a slip-and-fall accident at a Target store. Target sought to access her photos on Facebook but the account was set to “private.” Suspicious heightened when the number of photographs depicted on Nucci’s social media page shrunk after her deposition, and post-accident surveillance videos showed her carrying heavy items. The trial court ordered Ms. Nucci to hand over photographs of herself from two years prior to the incident to the present.
As Ms. Nucci unsuccessfully appealed the decision, we are left with the precedence by the appellate court which indicated that photographs are an especially important class of materials to litigation. As photographs have the potential to be “worth a thousand words,” there is no better portrayal of what an individual’s life was like than the photos the individual chose to share through social media before the occurrence of an accident causing injury, and thus, prior to the existence of any motive to manipulate reality.
Keep in mind that these requests must still be balanced with the person’s right to privacy. A complete request to download the opponent’s entire social media content in a “fishing expedition” (where relevant evidence might be incidentally caught in an all-inclusive discovery request) can not be made. However, the courts are saying that if it can be demonstrated that there is relevant public content, then the court can compel the individual to hand over the rest.
In this particular case, the photographs sought were powerfully relevant to the damage issues in the lawsuit. The relevance was demonstrated by the post-accident surveillance of Ms. Nucci which suggested that her injury claims were suspect and that she may not have been accurately reporting her pre-accident life and the quality of her life since then.
As photographs have the potential to be “worth a thousand words,” the court’s ruling suggests that photographs should typically be more freely discoverable in future personal injury lawsuits than other types of social media content.
More information on the case can be found at: https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/labor-employment/b/labor-employment-top-blogs/archive/2015/01/14/lawsuits-discovery-and-the-right-to-privacy-in-the-context-of-social-media.aspx