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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Facebook Makes an Appearance in Workers' Compensation Court

Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have now become informational sources that workers' compensation lawyers are now utilizing for evidentiary purposes. The question that remains unanswered is how information obtained through social networking sites can be admitted and utilized as evidence.

In a recently published article, Law School Professor Gregory M. Duhl and attorney Jaclyn S. Millner, focus on the issues of professional responsibility, discovery, privacy and evidence when social networking factors integrate with a workers's compensation proceeding. Since the compensation system is theoretically no-fault and the evidentiary system is informal, the authors theorize that the workers' compensation arena will act as a fertile ground for experimentation in the legal application of this new technology. 

Social networking site have experienced a surge in use. Web users spend more time on Facebook now than on Google.  Workers' Compensation judges are  also increasing their use of social networking sites.

Text, photos and commentary, shared among the social network, will provide a new avenue of factual discovery that may assist the decision maker in reaching an evaluation of the claim. The authors review the professional responsibilities of attorneys to their clients in advising them of the potential benefits and hazards of social networking, as well as  their  strategy for preparing text and photographic material into evidence. They conclude that lawyers handling workers' compensation matters need to be educated on how to properly utilize facts and opinions gathered from the social networking system.

Duhl, Gregory M. and Millner, Jaclyn S., Social Networking and Workers’ Compensation Law at the Crossroads (September 2010). Pace Law Review, Vol. 31; William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-16. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1675026
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For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900
 jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational illnesses. Author NJ Workers Compensation Law (West).

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