How Will ChatGPT Impact Intellectual Property Law?


AI chatbots, including ChatGPT, are becoming more sophisticated daily and raising intriguing questions about intellectual property law and how it applies to this rapidly evolving technology. For example, there are questions about who owns the content that ChatGPT and other chatbots generate. How should this AI content be managed and protected?

Keep reading to learn more about how IP law will be affected by ChatGTP. Then, if you have questions, speak to our California intellectual property lawyers at Ourfalian & Ourfalian today.

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an advanced language model that OpenAI developed. This AI chatbot can potentially change how people access and communicate information.

ChatGPT allows the user to type a question into its search field, and in seconds, there is a detailed answer. The AI chatbot can converse with users, help to draft short stories and essays, and implement various software programs. In addition, visitors to the ChatGPT platform can ask that the bot’s responses feature certain brands, topics, song lyrics, and more.

ChatGPT users can also use it to link to familiar songs, characters, and plots, all without intellectual property notices. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to write a story based on copyrighted works like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

Users can tell ChatGPT to write new content based on existing pop culture characters, set a new story in a new place, and add different endings. These features are undoubtedly entertaining, but they exist in a gray area between ‘fair use’ and creating unlicensed works based on copyrighted material. As the chatbot spreads in popularity, there will be growing questions about how it will affect IP law in the US and abroad.

FAQ on ChatGPT And How It Affects Intellectual Property Law

ChaatGPT is a new technology, and the legal aspects of its use are evolving. To get a better idea of how using the chatbot may affect IP, below are some common questions and answers on this topic.

Is It A Problem That ChatGPT Usually Does Not Have Attributions To Original Sources?

From an IP point of view, if the chatbot does not quote the source material, there does not need to be a citation, according to Forbes. Likewise, if the chatbot uses ideas but does not copy them, the use does not violate copyright or protected intellectual property.

Who Can Copyright Works Generated By ChatGPT?

For content to have copyright protection in the US, it must be the work of creative and original authorship by a human being. Without human creative input, the work cannot be copyright protected. So, the US Copyright Office will decline to register a piece of content generated by ChatGPT or another AI tool.

What Happens When ChatGPT Produces The Same Content For Another User?

For a copyright infringement claim to be successful, there must be proof that the work was copied. If the bot creates the same or similar content independently, then independent creation is a valid defense. However, neither person copied the work of another, so it is unlikely that a copyright infringement action would succeed.

What Does ChatGPT Mean For The Future Of Copyright?

The future of copyright is unclear, but AI will play a big part. AI systems such as ChatGPT can address complicated legal questions and may be able to prevent copyright infringement. However, many say that legal experts must devise AI systems that ensure copyright laws are respected.

Does ChatGPT Have Limitations?

Yes, like any machine learning model, it has limitations that can affect its accuracy. Some limitations that users have seen in ChatGPT include:

  • Dearth of common sense: GPT has been trained on a huge text dataset but lacks a deep understanding of the physical world or common sense that humans intuitively understand. This can cause ChatGPT to provide a response that needs to be revised or corrected.
  • Lack of context awareness: The chatbot does not know how to remember earlier conversations or maintain context over the long term. Thus, it cannot maintain a conversation in the same way that a person can.
  • Sensitivity to the query: The quality of the text response depends heavily on the quality of the question asked. The text response could be confusing or badly written if the question is not written clearly.
  • Training data bias: ChatGPT has been trained on a large text dataset that could contain stereotypes and biases. This can cause the model to create text that is offensive or biased.
  • Lack of creativity: The bot can create text similar to a human. But it is incapable of creative thinking that people can.

Is It Risky For An Inventor To Use ChatGPT To Write A First Draft Patent Claim?

Yes, you should be wary of using ChatGPT for this purpose. Some of the well-known risks in the patent claim space are:

  • Inconsistency and inaccuracy: The chatbot cannot perform the same level of creative thinking that people can. So, many do not always write text reflecting the inventor’s intentions.
  • Not understanding context: The chatbot cannot remember conversations it had earlier. So it may be unable to produce a claim that aligns with its earlier claims. Furthermore, claims may not match the context of your patent application.
  • Lack of overall understanding: ChatGPT probably will not understand the complex technical details of your invention or the legal issues related to a patent claim. This could cause it to write a legally or technically inaccurate claim.


It could be that ChatGPT will revolutionize how we obtain information and communicate with others. But as the technology advances, it is critical to deal with how it could affect IP, copyright, and trademark laws. The many legal issues that ChatGPT produces are complex, and the courts will likely need to offer clarification on these murky questions.

Contact Our California Intellectual Property Lawyers

ChatGPT is an interesting, growing tool that many people are experimenting with. OpenAI is trying to reduce the various legal issues, but IP holders and ChatGPT users should know about possible IP risks and take appropriate steps to protect their property. If you have questions about ChatGPT and how it affects your IP, speak to our California intellectual property lawyers at Ourfalian & Ourfalian at (818) 550-7777.

What Are the Most Common Personal Injuries?

personal injury attorneys

Millions of people suffer moderate, serious, or life-threatening injuries every year. In many of these cases, another party is directly at fault for causing the incident. For example, a drunk driver who runs a red light is, quite obviously, responsible for the injuries received by a pedestrian struck by that drunk driver while crossing the crosswalk. Victims of personal injuries have the ability to work with attorneys and file lawsuits against those responsible.

If you live in California, the Glendale personal injury lawyers at Ourfalian & Ourfalian can help. Below are the most common types of personal injuries.

Traffic Collisions

When most people think of how serious injuries occur, they think of car wrecks. And for good reason. Each year there are around 4.5 million medically consulted traffic injuries (an injury bad enough that the victim seeks professional medical treatment), according to the National Safety Council. The most common injuries in traffic collisions include concussions, fractured bones, facial injuries, soft tissue injuries, whiplash, and traumatic brain injuries, which are significantly worse than concussions. Not all of these 4.5 million injuries are car crashes. Traffic collisions encompass all of the following types of incidents:

  • Car collisions
  • Truck collisions
  • Bus collisions
  • Motorcycle collisions
  • Pedestrian collisions
  • Bicyclist collisions
  • Scooter, skateboard, hoverboard, etc. collisions

Regardless of what type of road user you were (driver, occupant, cyclist, or pedestrian) at the time of the crash, you have a right to seek full compensation for your damages from the at-fault party.

Dangerous and Defective Consumer Products

The manufacturers who sell products to consumers have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe for their intended uses, that they are marketed for their intended purpose, and that they are property safety instructions, warnings labels, and instruction manuals for the user. Injuries caused by dangerous or defective products are generally the fault of the manufacturer, though other parties, such as the retailer, can be held accountable depending on the scenario.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Falls are the leading cause of injury in the United States, and the most common reason for people to seek medical care in an emergency room. Among older adults, falls alone comprise over 90% of emergency room visits, according to the CDC. All properties must be maintained and designed for the safety of all invitees, regardless of their age. A slip, trip, and fall is most often caused by:

  • Spills and leaks
  • Lack of hand railing on stairs
  • Poor lighting
  • Debris in the middle of a walking area
  • Cracked, ripped, or otherwise damaged flooring
  • Uneven surfaces that are improperly marked

Other Premises Liability Incidents

Accidents can happen in businesses, the workplace, residential homes and apartments, government buildings, and all other types of structures and properties. The property owner or business owner had a duty of care to all invitees, and any injury that arises out of the owner’s negligence can be grounds for a personal injury claim.

  • Swimming Pool Accidents—Injury or death can occur from drowning, slip and falls, and even electrocution caused by faulty wiring. Some of the most common swimming pool accidents are caused by lack of a gate (which is required by law), lack of supervision, or negligent maintenance.
  • Dog Bites and Dog Attacks—If a dog bites a house guest, the owner can be held liable. Similarly, if a dog gets loose or bites someone even while on a leash, the owner will likely be held liable, and the victim can file a claim with the dog owner’s home insurance company.
  • Negligent Security—Bars and nightclubs have a responsibility to provide certain safety measures for invitees, and can be held financially responsible if a patron gets mugged or assaulted.
  • Lack of Maintenance—A lot can go wrong in a house or building if it is improperly maintained. If a roof collapses, elevator falls, or an outlet has faulty wiring, serious injury is likely to occur, and the victim can hold the property owner accountable in many of these scenarios.

Medical Malpractice

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to recent studies. As many as a quarter-million deaths occur every year due to medical mistakes made in hospitals, urgent care clinics, and doctor’s offices, according to a Johns Hopkins study. Other researchers have found that number to be even higher, at 440,000 deaths annually. Most of these errors go unnoticed by the victim’s family members, who have a right to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one.

While medical errors lead to potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths, there are inevitably many more instances in which the victim survives, but is seriously injured. Victims of medical malpractice can sue for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Additionally, claims can also be filed against pharmaceutical companies if the victim was injured due to a defective or dangerous drug or medical device.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home abuse can take many forms. Failing to address bed sores or failure to assist a resident in and out of bed are two common types of neglect, while physical or verbal harassment, teasing, or threats, which constitute abuse, are also used by nursing home staff for various reasons. Nursing home abuse and neglect can be difficult to spot, particularly if your elderly loved one has dementia and cannot clearly describe what is going on. Signs of abuse or neglect can include:

  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Unexplained bruises or cuts
  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained falls or other serious injuries
  • Depression

Your loved one deserves better than this. You can hold the nursing home or assisted living facility accountable by working with an attorney to seek damages on behalf of your loved one.

Call Our Glendale Personal Injury Attorney Today

Victims of personal injury incidents can seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning ability, pain and suffering, property damage, and more. To get started on your claim today, we urge you to reach out to an experienced Glendale personal injury attorney who has the experience and diligence to properly handle your case. Call Ourfalian & Ourfalian today at (818) 550-7777 to schedule a free consultation.

What to Look For When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

personal injury lawyer

There are a lot of personal injury attorneys out there to choose from. How do you know you went with the right one? Below is a simple guide for choosing the right personal injury attorney. Above all else, make sure that you get along with your attorney, they have the experience and knowledge necessary to handle your case, and they will work their hardest to ensure a favorable outcome.

What Type Of Injury Claim Do You Need Help With?

Personal injury encompasses a wide range of accidents and incidents, and not all attorneys have experience handling all of these types of claims. For example, one law firm may be adept at all types of traffic collisions (car crashes, bike crashes, motorcycle crashes, pedestrian injuries, etc.), but have zero experience assisting clients with medical malpractice claims, which are another type of personal injury claim.

Communicating With the Client

One of the most important things to look for in an attorney is their ability to communicate with you, the client. If an attorney seldomly calls or emails their clients with updates, if it takes more than a few days for them to respond to questions, or if they regularly go months without informing the client about their case, chances of a successful outcome are slim. You may win a settlement, but it will be less than what it could have been because the attorney probably had more on their plate than they should have, which is the reason for the lack of response to their client’s inquiries.

Additionally, it is your right to know what is going on with your claim. Your attorney should have enough compassion and understanding of the situation you are in and care enough to answer your calls and emails and to spend the necessary time addressing your concerns and explaining what the next step will be.

Work With An Attorney Who Has A Clean Record

There are a lot of attorneys out there that barely scraped their way through law school, or—even worse—have committed questionable acts throughout their years of practice. In California, there were over 17,000 open cases of license fraud against California attorneys and non-attorneys, 180 disciplinary charges, 97 recommendations of suspension, and 600 open cases of unauthorized practice of law. All of these were found in 2020 alone. The California Bar administers the state’s disciplinary system, and the record is public. You can conduct your own search of an attorney’s disciplinary history here.

What Type of Resources Does the Attorney Have?

Your goal is to win as large a settlement or lawsuit verdict as possible. Not all law firms have the ability to do this. While you might reach a reasonable settlement by going with Lawyer A, you could have won a much larger amount by going with Lawyer B. Of course, the difficult part is determining which law firm is more capable, better staffed, and better connected within its field of practice. This can be difficult, especially if you do not have any past experience with attorneys and the lawyer in question was not recommended by a friend or family member.

To start out, consider the law firm’s size, the number of years they have been around, the individual experience of the attorney you will be working with, and the professional connections that the law firm has: doctors, expert witnesses, law enforcement, private investigators, etc. Large firms are not necessarily better than small legal practices, especially if the firm had dozens of offices and spends millions on advertising because that type of marketing price tag will inevitably come out of your pocket.

How Are Fees Paid?

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. They do not get paid unless you win your case. In this scenario, the attorney would likely take one-third (33%) of the award. As such, if you win your case for $100,000, the attorney’s fee would be $33,333. If it cannot be settled out of court and it goes to trial, the fee usually increases to 40 percent. But in addition to this normal cut, there are other expenses related to personal injury claims that you should be aware of. These include court filing fees, administrative expenses, and information gathering expenses including expert witness fees. You should discuss with the attorney how these will be paid.

Read Client Reviews

According to various studies, 94% of diners are influenced by online reviews, and 97% of people claim to read reviews about local businesses before making purchasing decisions, according to Small Business Trends. If you would not eat at a restaurant with bad reviews, why would you hire an attorney to handle something much more important than how your steak is cooked? Read an attorney’s client reviews to get a sense of how their cases turned out and whether or not the attorney had good communication with the client.

Find Out if Your Attorney Has Won Cases In The Courtroom

Less than 10 percent of personal injury cases go to court. Typically, it is in neither party’s interest to drag the matter into the courtroom. It is more expensive for the at-fault party’s insurance company, and it is more time-intensive, stressful, and emotionally taxing for the plaintiff. But sometimes arguing your case before a judge is necessary if the other party refuses to budge, or if you and your attorney feel that a much higher amount can be won in court than settling. As such, it is vital that your attorney has real courtroom experience.

For one thing, if your attorney, deep down, knows that he or she will fare poorly in court, they have less bargaining room to reach a higher settlement. Secondly, if your case does go to trial, there is no room for error. You could end up losing it all if your attorney is unprepared or inexperienced in the courtroom. Make sure that your personal injury attorney has a good track record of winning cases in court.

Contact A Glendale Personal Injury Attorney At Ourfalian & Ourfalian

No matter how much online sleuthing you do, you cannot judge an attorney’s character or experience without meeting them. Choose an attorney who truly cares about you. Contact the Glendale personal injury attorney at Ourfalian & Ourfalian today at (818) 550-7777 to schedule a free consultation.

Global Settlement in Southern California Gas Leak Cases

We are pleased to announce that, after six years of litigation, Sempra Energy and SoCalGas have agreed to pay up to $1.8 billion to resolve all eligible claims in the Southern California Gas Leak Cases.

The global settlement comes nearly six years to the day after the largest release of methane gas in United States History. The blowout of oil and gas well SS-25 at Aliso Canyon caused tremendous harm to the surrounding communities and businesses, resulting in eight thousand plaintiffs being relocated for months on end. Displaced from their homes, these plaintiffs were forced to live in cramped hotel rooms far from home, work, and childcare. Those who stayed in the community during the blowout suffered from nosebleeds, respiratory symptoms, nausea, vomiting, and other physical symptoms from the blowout. All our clients have harrowing experiences from the blowout. We are very pleased to have secured up to $1.8 billion to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries and hold Sempra and SoCalGas accountable

for the aftermath of the SS-25 blowout. Coupled with the roughly $550 million in funds covering the relocation and cleaning costs of Plaintiffs previously paid by Sempra and SoCalGas, Defendants will have paid up to $2.35 billion to those impacted by the blowout.

This litigation has been intensely fought on behalf of all 35,717 plaintiffs, with Plaintiffs conducting over 585 days of depositions and filing/opposing roughly fifty motions, writs, and appeals. Importantly, a settlement will bring resolution to the plaintiffs’ claims as quickly as possible, as bringing all the cases to trial would take close to a decade and require enormous resources, assuming there were no further pandemic-related delays.

At this time, it is not yet possible to know how much each plaintiff will receive in the settlement, because the allocation protocol and methodology of distributing the funds have not been developed. We will post further information as it becomes available.

How to Plan Your Business Needs During the COVID-19 Crisis

To Our Valued Clients and Friends of the Firm,

The last several weeks the COVID-19 virus has been dominating the news cycle, and it must also be dominating your personal and professional lives as well.  The exacerbated impact of the pandemic, the declaration of national emergency and the directives from governmental officials to facilitate socials distancing, coupled by the recent Executive Orders of the State Governor and City Mayor has changed the landscape substantially.

At Ourfalian & Ourfalian we remain committed to not only ensuring the health and safety of our clients and employees but also to preserve the financial well-being of our business clients as we all weather this storm together.

We are actively implementing our response to this situation while operating in an environment of considerable uncertainty. Safeguarding the health of our clients, our people, and the communities where we live and work is of equal importance. Therefore we have taken the necessary steps to adhere to the local and state executive orders of “shelter in place”. While the office will be closed as we monitor the situation on a daily basis, we remain committed to address the evolving needs of our clients and provide ongoing guidance during this uncharted and fluid situation.

Our attorneys and staff are also armed with resources to help them stay safe while continuing to meet client needs and exceed expectations. We will actively follow the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state/local governmental agencies to revise plans and make decisions accordingly.

In the interim, the following are some helpful links and information that provide resources for employers and employees as they navigate through the web of information.

  • The Labor and Workforce Development Agency:
  • There is also ongoing aid being provided to small business on several levels including on the federal and state levels.

The federal government has already put into place several programs to help business owners negatively impacted by the current economic climate. The following is a list of available programs.

  1. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
    The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the tax filings and payments for all federal income taxes (including self-employment tax) due on April 15, 2020, regardless of amount, will now be due on July 15, 2020.See: 
  2. United States Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses. Terms will be determined on a case by case basis, based on each individual’s ability to repay the loan. The state of California is one of the states that is eligible for SBA disaster loans.


 In addition to the Federal Government, State and local governments have also begun implementing programs to help business owners impacted by COVID-19.

  1.  California Franchise Tax Board (FTB)
    The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced updated special tax relief for all California taxpayers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FTB is postponing until July 15, 2020 the filing and payment deadlines for all individuals and business entities.See:
  2. Employment Development Department- Reduced Work Hours
    For employers who are experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the coronavirus impact on the economy may apply for the UI (Unemployment Insurance) Work Sharing Program, which will allow employers to seek an alternative to layoffs.See
  3. Employment Development Department- Potential Closure or Layoffs
    Employers planning a closure or major layoffs as a result of COVID-19 can get help through the Rapid Response Program, where they will meet with Rapid Response Teams to discuss needs, averting layoffs, and will be provided with on-site services to assist workers facing job losses.See
  4. Employment Development Department- Potential Closure or Layoffs
    Employers experiencing hardships as a result of COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day extension of time from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest.See
  5. City of Los Angeles Small Business Emergency Microloan Program
    The City of Los Angeles Small Business Emergency Microloan Program will provide financing needed to strengthen small business enterprises in this time of need. For business that meet the criteria provided on the City of LA’s website, they can apply online for the microloan.See

The following is a list of other resources that may aid business owners negatively impacted by COVID-19.

  1. Facebook Facebook has announced a $100 million in grants for small businesses in a blog post from March 17, 2020. Details have yet to be announced for which businesses will be eligible for the grants, however there is a sign-up link in the blog post to stay updated.See
  2. Microsoft Microsoft Teams freemium allows employers to use unlimited chat, built in-group and one-on-one audio or video calling, 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage per user. Business owners can also get real-time collaboration with the Office apps for web, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.See
  3. Zoom Zoom allows employers to host up to 100 participants in a meeting and hold unlimited one-on-one meetings with the video conference provider’s complimentary plan. This does provide a 40 minute limit on group meetings, but you are not limited on the number of meetings.

We stand ready to help answer any questions or concerns you may have, so please do not hesitate to Contact our office

Source: Ourfalian & Ourfalian Attorneys at Law

So You’ve Had An Accident, What’s Next?

Source: California Department of Insurance


Driving on California’s highways can be a risky proposition. Whenever you’re in a vehicle, there’s a chance you’ll be involved in a traffic accident. Whether it’s a small fender bender or a major injury accident, knowing in advance what to do can help you avoid costly mistakes. This guide discusses what to do after an accident and what to expect when you file an automobile insurance claim with your insurance company. For your convenience, an accident checklist is contained herein which can be kept in your vehicle for future reference.

When purchasing insurance, carefully review the application before signing it to be certain that the coverages, policy limits, and deductibles suit your needs. After you receive the policy, review the declaration page. It contains important information on who is covered, the vehicles insured, as well as the coverage limits and deductibles. Make sure the information is correct and the coverage is what you purchased. If changes are needed, send your request to your agent and/or insurance company in writing and keep a copy. Use “certified mail/return receipt requested” to verify receipt of your letter.

Become familiar with your automobile insurance policy before it’s needed. Read the policy thoroughly so you know what is covered and what is excluded.

Some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Automobile Insurance Claims are Discussed Below:

What To Do If There Is An Accident

Q. What Should I Do at the Scene of an Accident?
A. Immediately stop at the scene.

  • Call 911 if there are injuries.
  • Call the police. In some areas police authorities may not come to every accident scene. They may consider factors such as the severity and location of the accident (e.g., some police authorities will not come to the scene if the accident is on private property). However, you should attempt to notify the police. You should also be aware that most policies require notification of police within a specified time period if the accident is a hit and run.
  • Obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers, and driver’s license numbers from all drivers. Obtain license plate(s) and vehicle identification numbers. Ask to see driver’s license(s) and vehicle registration(s) to verify that the information is accurate.
  • Obtain names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other passengers and any witnesses.
  • If you have a camera, take photographs of the damage, the position of the cars, and the accident scene (e.g., traffic controls, visual obstacles).
  • If the owner of a damaged car or damaged property cannot be located, leave a note with the names and addresses of the driver and owners of the involved cars.
  • Notify your agent and/or your insurance company immediately.
  • If anyone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $750.00, you must report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. Failure to notify the DMV may result in the suspension of your driver’s license.

Things to Avoid at the Scene of an Accident

  • Do not argue with other drivers and passengers. Save your story for the police and your insurance company.
  • Do not sign statements regarding fault or promises to pay for damage.
  • If another party offers to pay your deductible, don’t sign anything releasing him or her from further responsibility. By releasing the other party, you jeopardize your insurance company’s subrogation right, and the company may refuse to pay for damage to your car.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What Happens After I File the Claim With My Insurance Company?

A. Your insurance company will contact you for additional information, such as a detailed account of the facts, or a written or recorded statement. An examination under oath may be requested. As part of the investigation, other drivers and witnesses may be contacted. If you have medical payments or an uninsured motorist claim, you must provide documentation of your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, et cetera.

Q. What Should I Do if the Insurance Company Does Not Contact Me?

A. A claim representative should contact you within a reasonable period of time after you report the loss. However under certain circumstances the insurance company can take up to 15 days to contact you. If you do not hear from anyone, call your agent or insurance company for assistance. If they are not responsive, or you believe there is an unreasonable delay in settling your claim, contact the Department of Insurance.

Q. How Does the Insurance Company Evaluate Vehicle Damage?

A. A qualified adjuster or appraiser usually inspects the vehicle damage. The adjuster or appraiser then writes an estimate based on the initial inspection. If further damage is found during the repair process, the shop will contact the insurer to get the additional cost of repairs approved. Keep in mind the insurer may send out an adjuster to re-inspect the additional damages. If the damage is relatively minor, the company may instead ask you to submit competitive repair estimates. Remember, it is your responsibility to sign and authorize the shop to repair your vehicle once you are satisfied with the final estimate and repair facility.

Q. What Will the Company Pay on a Physical Damage Claim Under a Standard Auto Policy?

A. Generally, the company will pay the lesser of

  • The amount necessary to repair the vehicle or
  • The actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle.Read your policy to be certain of what is and isn’t covered. Pay particular attention to exclusions. For example, there is usually no coverage for stereo equipment, a telephone, or tires and wheels unless the equipment was permanently installed by the automobile manufacturer. Coverage is usually available for such special equipment for an extra premium charge.

Q. What Is Actual Cash Value (ACV)?

A. Actual Cash Value – Unless otherwise defined in the policy, actual cash value in California means fair market value. The fair market value of an item is the dollar amount that a knowledgeable buyer (under no unusual pressure) is willing to pay, and a knowledgeable seller (under no unusual pressure) is willing to accept.

Q. What Is an Appraisal Provision?

A. Most standard policies contain an appraisal provision, which can be helpful in the event that you do not agree with your company on the amount of loss. Read your policy to see if it contains one. Under this provision, either of you can demand an appraisal. Each party selects a competent appraiser. The appraisers then select an umpire. If the appraisers cannot agree on the amount of loss, their differences are submitted to the umpire. An amount that any two agree upon is binding. Each party pays its appraiser; the umpire fee is shared.

Q. How Is the Check or Draft Prepared?

A. The check may be made payable to the insured and any lienholder, such as a bank or finance company. If the vehicle is repaired, the company may also include the repair facility as a payee.

Q. Who Is Responsible for the Balance of a Car Loan?

A. The borrower is responsible for the balance of the loan, even if the vehicle is stolen or damaged beyond repair. If your claim payment is less than the loan balance, the lender will expect you to pay the difference. Coverage commonly referred to as “gap” insurance can usually be purchased to protect against this situation.

Q. Will the Company Pay for a Rental Car While Mine is Being Repaired?

A. Yes, if you have purchased rental vehicle coverage. Review your policy before you rent a vehicle. Although policy limits vary, the company pays up to a specified amount per day for a specified number of days. The coverage ends when your vehicle is repaired, the loss is paid or after the specified period, whichever comes first. If your vehicle is stolen, the policy may automatically provide transportation expenses. Again, review your policy to be sure. This type of coverage usually begins 48 hours after the theft and ends when your vehicle is recovered, the loss is paid or after a specified period, whichever comes first.

Q. What Is a Collision Damage Waiver and Will the Company Pay These Charges for the Rental Vehicle?

A. The terms of the rental agreement make the customer responsible for collision damage while he or she has possession of the vehicle. Additionally, rental companies insure themselves for damage to the vehicle caused by collision. For an additional fee, the rental company will waive all or a portion of the customer’s obligation to pay repair costs for damage to the vehicle caused by collision. Both the amount of the fee and the language of the waiver vary. Coverage for collision damage to the rental car under your personal automobile policy depends upon the policy language. Read your policy carefully. Ask your agent or company before you rent a vehicle.

Q. What Is the Salvage Value?

A. This is the remaining value of your damaged vehicle if your vehicle is determined to be a total loss. It is usually determined through bids from salvage buyers. The company may sell the salvage to the highest bidder. However, it is not obligated to do so. If you decide to keep the damaged vehicle, the highest salvage bid may be deducted from your settlement. In effect, you are “buying back” your vehicle for the salvage value. If you retain possession of the salvaged vehicle, it is your responsibility to file a salvage certificate with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Q. What Is Subrogation?

A. Subrogation is the right of the insurance company to recover from a third party the amount of damages it paid to you. For example, if another party is at fault in an accident that damages your car, and you have a collision claim, your company will ask the other party to reimburse the money it paid on your claim. The policy requires your cooperation with the company’s subrogation efforts. Also, you cannot do anything that jeopardizes the company’s right of recovery. For example, you cannot sign an agreement releasing the other party in exchange for payment of your deductible.

Q. Is the Company Required to Help Me Recover My Deductible?

A. Yes and no. The insurance company must advise you as to whether or not they intend to pursue subrogation. If the company pursues subrogation, they are required to include your deductible as a part of the process. However, if the company does not pursue subrogation they are required to advise you of that fact so that you may pursue your deductible on your own. If their efforts are successful, in whole or in part, the company will reimburse you in accordance with the recovery. For example, if 100 percent of the paid claim is recovered, you will receive 100 percent of your deductible; if the recovery is 65 percent, you will receive 65 percent of your deductible. Any expenses or fees (e.g., legal fees, incurred by the company in its recovery efforts) will be apportioned between the company and you, if recovery is made. However, if you choose not to have the company include your deductible in its efforts, you can seek recovery directly from the other party on your own. But before you do, discuss the matter with your company to avoid jeopardizing its recovery.

Q. Is the Car Covered Outside of California?

A. Most policies provide coverage in other states, U.S. territories and possessions, and Canada. As is the case in California, many other states and territories have enacted financial responsibility laws requiring drivers to carry a specified amount of automobile insurance to cover losses resulting from ownership or operation of a motor vehicle. If the financial responsibility requipments where you are traveling are higher than your policy limits, your company will meet the higher requirements. Most policies do not provide coverage in Mexico, so if you plan to drive your car there, it’s wise to buy that coverage separately. Check your out-of-state coverage before you travel.

California’s financial responsibility law is set forth commencing with Section 16020 of the California Vehicle Code. Among other things, it requires all drivers to be able to pay damages resulting from ownership or operation of a motor vehicle. Drivers must show ability to pay damages (called financial responsibility) of at least $15,000 for each person injured or killed in an accident, of at least $30,000 for injury/death to two or more persons in one accident, and of at least $5,000 for property damage from any one accident. If you are cited by a peace officer for any moving violation, or are involved in an accident, you may be asked for written proof of financial responsibility. This can be done by recording the name of your insurance company and policy number on the vehicle registration card issued by DMV. This proof of insurance should be kept in the vehicle or in the driver’s wallet or purse so it will be available when driving any car. For further information, contact the CA Department of Motor Vehicles.

Q. What Should Be Done if a Lawsuit (Summons and Complaint) Arises Out of an Accident?

A. Notify your agent and insurance company immediately. Keep a copy for yourself and mail or deliver the original documents to your company. Do not give statements or discuss the accident with anyone except a verified representative of your company. If the lawsuit arises out of a covered loss, your company will provide legal defense.

Q. Is a Newly Acquired Vehicle Covered?

A. Most policies provide 30 days automatic coverage for a vehicle that replaces a vehicle already on your policy. The coverage normally is the same coverage you had on your previous vehicle. Notify your broker-agent as soon as possible of any replacement vehicle. If you wish additional coverage, there is usually a requirement that you notify your agent or your company within a designated time period.

Most policies also provide automatic coverage for a newly acquired vehicle that is an addition to the vehicles you already have on your policy. There are usually specific conditions that must be met. For example, the purchased vehicle must be reported to your agent or company within a designated time period (e.g., 30 days) or there may be a requirement that in order for coverage to automatically apply, all of your other owned vehicles must be insured with the company.

Important Tips

  • Read your policy. Don’t wait until after an accident.
  • If you don’t understand your policy, ask your agent and/or company for clarification.
  • If you have an accident, call the police. If there are injuries, call paramedics.
  • Get as much information as possible at the accident scene to furnish to your agent and/or insurance company.
  • Immediately notify your agent and/or insurance company of an accident.
  • Cooperate with the insurance adjusters/investigators to aid in their efforts.
  • If you don’t understand something about the claims procedure (e.g., amount of settlement offer), ask your agent and/or insurance company representative to explain.
  • Notify your agent or company in writing of any change in your vehicle ownership.

Your Rights Under The Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations

In general, insurance companies are required to do the following:

  • Advise you of all benefits, coverage, time limits or other provisions of your insurance policy.
  • Acknowledge claim, start investigation, provide forms and instructions, and provide reasonable assistance immediately but in no event later than 15 days after receiving notice of claim. (Notice of claim is any written or oral communication to the insurance company which reasonably apprises the insurer that you wish to make a claim.)
  • Respond to communications received from you immediately but in no event later than 15 days.
  • Accept or deny the claim immediately but in no event later than 40 days after receiving proof of claim. (Proof of claim is documentation in your possession which provides any evidence of the claim and supports the magnitude or the amount of the loss such as estimates of repair or police report indicating theft of your vehicle, et cetera.)
  • Unless the insurer has provided you with the name of a specific towing company prior to your using a towing facility, the insurer must pay reasonable towing expenses.
  • Offer a fair settlement. If you suffered a total loss, settlement must include taxes, license and transfer fees. The settlement must reflect the value of a comparable vehicle of like kind and quality. If you retain the salvage, deductions from the settlement for salvage must be fair, measurable, and discernable.
  • Once the claim has been accepted, the insurer must pay the claim immediately, but in no event later than 30 days from the date settlement was reached.
  • Advise you whether or not they will pursue subrogation. If the insurance company pursues subrogation, they must include your deductible unless you have already recovered your deductible.

The above represents a paraphrased brief overview of some of the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations effective 5/10/97. View a complete copy of the California Code of Regulations.

Automobile Insurance Fraud

Red Flags

Automobile insurance fraud in California historically has taken several forms. The most common fraud schemes involve automobile property and automobile accidents.

Automobile Property- This type of fraud most often involves dishonest auto body and repair shops and/or insureds who may employ a variety of illegal or questionable techniques including:

  • Reporting parts of vehicles as damaged or lost when in fact they were not damaged or lost prior to the shop receiving the vehicle.
  • Making final cost in excess of the original estimate of damage.
  • Billing for repairs that were not authorized.
  • Charging for genuine parts when aftermarket or used parts from a junkyard were used.
  • Pounding out dents or using bondo when charging for brand new auto parts.
  • Falsely reporting stolen vehicles or vandalism of vehicles in order to collect insurance monies.

It is always important for the consumer to review carefully all paper work from auto body and repair shops in order to protect against potential fraud. Also, consumers should be cautious of any auto body or repair facility that makes referrals to medical or legal offices. This practice may be an indicator of “capping.” Capping (a felony in California is the illegal referral of clients to legal offices for a fee.

Automobile Accidents – Automobile fraud often involves organized auto accident rings. Staged auto accidents, which are not accidents at all, follow several basic schemes including:

  • Suddenly stopping for no apparent reason
  • Intentionally disregarding the right-of-way
  • Giving up the right-of-way in order to cause an accident
  • Claims report list passengers who were not in the vehicle at the time of the accident
  • Witnesses are listed who were not at the scene of the accident
  • Injuries claimed are excessive compared to vehicle damage
  • Driver has a temporary vehicle registration
  • Prior damage to the other vehicle
  • Contact by an attorney without being solicited

If you have been in an auto accident, be cautious of any unsolicited referral to a body shop, law office or medical office. Organized accident rings and cappers actively solicit others in the community to participate in the creation of accidents. Often these accidents only exist on paper (referred to as paper accidents), and no innocent parties are involved. Paper accidents have gained in popularity among fraud perpetrators, as they are less dangerous from a bodily injury standpoint, and there is less likelihood of police involvement.

Auto Body Repair Shops

Under California Insurance Code §758.5 an insurance company cannot require that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop. However, an insurance company can recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop under the following conditions outlined by law:

  • The consumer specifically requests a recommendation from the insurance company to a repair shop.
  • The consumer has been informed in writing of the right to select a repair shop of his or her choice.
  • If the consumer agrees to use the recommended repair shop, the insurance company must restore the damaged vehicle to its condition prior to the accident or loss with no additional cost other than as stated in the policy or as otherwise allowed by law.
  • If the company makes an oral recommendation to a repair shop, and it is accepted by the consumer, then the company must follow the oral recommendation with the prescribed written notice within five calendar days as specified by law.

If the vehicle is repaired in a shop chosen by the consumer, then the insurance company must pay the reasonable costs to repair the vehicle in a workmanlike manner. The insurance company is prohibited from limiting or discounting reasonable repair costs based on charges that would have occurred if the vehicle had been repaired at the company’s recommended repair shop. Also, the insurance company must stand behind the repairs of the recommended shop if the vehicle is not repaired properly.

Auto Replacement Parts

  • In some cases an auto repair may include replacement of damaged parts with after-market parts. After-market parts are parts which are not made by the original manufacturer. After-market parts may be equal or better in quality than original equipment manufacturer parts. Although non-original equipment manufactured replacement parts can be used to repair your vehicle, any such part must be comparable to original equipment manufactured parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit and performance. Consumers should take note of the following:
  • An auto repair shop is required to provide a written repair estimate of the cost of repairs prior to initiating repairs to the vehicle. Once the work is completed, the shop must then provide a written repair invoice. State law requires that the type of auto parts used in repairs must be identified on the repair invoice. Consumers should carefully check their invoice to ensure that the auto body shop has identified each auto part replaced as being used, reconditioned, rebuilt, an original equipment manufacturer part, or an after-market part.

Source: California Department of Insurance

Can Social Media Have An Impact On Your Personal Injury Claim?

By Jimmy Rohampton , Forbes

Increasingly, social media is becoming more ingrained and playing a bigger role in our lives. From travel and shopping to healthcare, relationships and even education, social media is impacting decisions that millennials take daily. Also, some colleges do look at college applicants’ social media posts and just days ago, Harvard rescinded admissions offers to 10 students for offensive memes they posted in a private Facebook group.

Interestingly, social media use also brings legal consequences. Stalking, harassment, cyber bullying, even posting evidence of committing crimes online have landed people in court.

However, what you may not realize is that the things you say and do on social media can also have an impact on your ongoing personal injury case. Let’s take a closer look at how this is so.

Defense lawyers may use your posts to refute your claims

The entire point of a personal injury lawsuit is to recover damages because your life has been negatively impacted by an injury caused by someone else. The defense attorney’s job is to find evidence that proves that your life has not been negatively impacted, or that you are exaggerating your injuries in some way.

Defense lawyers collect evidence in many ways. They may interview your employer, friends, and neighbors. They may even hire a private investigator to watch you. Their goal is to capture behavior that contradicts your claims and proves that you aren’t suffering as you claimed.

Unfortunately, many plaintiffs make things very easy for the defense, simply by posting things on social media that undermine their claims. For example, a simple post about mowing the lawn could be used as evidence to refute a personal injury claim about a back injury.

“Personal injury cases don’t only involve physical injuries or disabilities,” says Jonathan Marshall, CEO of New Jersey DUI Lawyer. “These cases can also include claims of emotional duress, trauma, and other impacts to mental health and wellbeing. A plaintiff can collect damages if they prove that their quality of life and ability to function has been diminished. Social media posts can also be used against plaintiffs if they seem to contradict claims of mental or emotional trauma. This is especially problematic, because many people only share the positive on social media. This can give the impression to judges and juries alike that the plaintiff really isn’t suffering.”

In one case, a student brought a lawsuit against her teacher, school district and other school officials alleging that she was traumatized because the defendants had failed to protect her when she was pursued and sexually assaulted by her teacher, Danny Cuesta. Defense attorneys used her social media post, which featured her drinking, smiling, and socializing with friends, as evidence to refute her claims.

While this may seem unfair, the truth is it’s a tactic that defense lawyers regularly use.

Negative posts about the defendant can backfire

“If you’ve been injured as a result of the careless or even criminal behavior of an individual, business, or other organization, you may be rightfully angry,” says John Sloan, attorney at Sloan Firm. “However, venting that anger on social media can be a bad idea. People are very quick to define others as ‘sue happy’ or out to make a quick buck by exaggerating claims just to get settlement money, so defendants are often eager to find ways to exploit these attitudes and make plaintiffs seem as if they are simply out to get money.”

The infamous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit is strong evidence of this. They may even look for ways to claim that the basis for the suit against them is sour grapes or bad blood rather than any actual injury.

By posting negatively about the defendant on social media, you can play right into that. Angry posts can be used to paint you as being bitter, unhinged, or simply out to paint the defendant in a negative light.

If positive social media posts about your life could negatively affect your case, how about just sharing posts about your injuries and how they affect your life on social media while your personal injury claim lasts?

Actually, that’s a bad idea too. Posting about your injuries can open legal doorways for the defense. Even seemingly simple personal injury cases can be quite complex. These cases involve many professionals. This might include doctors, medical personnel, insurance adjusters and actuaries, attorneys, members of law enforcement and more.

There are many reasons that all of these professionals are involved. They are used to paint a clear picture to the judge or jury regarding the exact nature of the plaintiff’s injuries, how those injuries impact that person’s life, and how long those effects might last. The defense attorney’s job is to find inconsistencies and untruths.

If you post about your injuries on social media, and your description of those injuries don’t align with your claim, this can diminish your case. This is true even when the inconsistencies are unintentional.

If you’re the defendant, you want to exercise caution as well. Social media posts can be used as evidence against you too to negatively impact the outcome of a case against you, and the compensation awarded against you should you be found liable.

Ultimately, there is little social media can do to help you as a plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury case. To be safe, give everything you post very careful consideration and consider adjusting privacy settings but the best approach in the end is probably to take a break from social media altogether.

Source: Forbes

Ways Social Media Impacts Law

By Brad Reid, Huffington Post

Social media, broadly defined, is having a powerful impact in the U.S. legal environment. Additionally, as social media crosses national boundaries, global legal concerns, not addressed in this brief comment, must be considered in practice. The following limited and incomplete points illustrate how one must exercise care in the social media legal world. Most individuals understand that what is communicated in the public domain is subject to research. Simultaneously, unthinking actions contradict this knowledge. There is no traditional “reasonable expectation of privacy” in publicly available information. Also, one must always assume that speech and actions are “on the record.” However, as is well known, social media information may be inaccurate and should never be blindly taken at face value.

In the interest of brevity, the following commentary only provides a minimal number of legal citations. In all areas, consult an experienced attorney.

Legal Risks In “Cleaning-Up” Social Media Profiles

The major legal issue, when litigation is anticipated or is occurring, involves the potential destruction of evidence. Altering privacy settings, deactivating accounts, and deleting content could all fall under unlawful destruction of evidence. This has both civil and criminal implications. “Spoilation of evidence” is the traditional legal phrase utilized in civil lawsuits. Bar Associations are developing ethical standards for attorneys to follow in advising clients concerning their existing social media content.

Introducing Social Media Information Into Trial Evidence

Trial attorneys will likely investigate the social media information of potential trial jurors. This is considered ethical and diligent. Jurors, and potential jurors once jury selection begins, are restricted in their use of social media, email, and Internet searches during the trial and deliberations. Many decisions have been reversed based upon this juror misconduct. However, the legal system should make reasoned adjustments in recognition of the ease and reality of computer-mediated interactions and information.

The federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) (18 U.S.C. Secs. 2701-2712) broadly states that “a person or entity providing an electronic communication service to the public shall not knowingly divulge to any person or entity the contents of a communication while in electronic storage by that service.” (18 U.S.C. Sec. 2702(a)(1). The main exceptions to the disclosure prohibition are law enforcement and governmental entities that have a good faith belief that an emergency situation exists. Typically a subpoena is served on the entity. However, most civil lawsuits are excluded. Nevertheless, when social media will contradict injury claims, privacy rights may be overruled by a court.

A litigant may simply conduct her or his own social media investigation or utilize formal legal discovery procedures. Of course, the party whose social information is requested may voluntarily authorize its release. Parties may stipulate that the offered evidence is accurate. Another approach is to assert that the postings are contemporaneous business records.

Introducing the contents of the social media into evidence requires that it be “authenticated.” While procedural rules vary somewhat from state-to-state, the following outline is typical. If the author’s testimony is unavailable, then another witness must testify that she or he knows the author in question, that the evidence offered accurately reflects what is presented on the social media site, and that some of the content would only be known by the author or poster. The standard for authentication is not especially high and relates to what a “reasonable” person would find acceptable.

The following twelve, of many, legal areas impacted by social media are listed alphabetically with very brief and incomplete examples or comments:


1. Social media advertising is potentially subject to regulatory rules. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among other agencies, have broad statutory authority. While few precisely targeted social media standards have been set, consult an experienced attorney before acting.

Antitrust Litigation

1. Industrial organizations or associations, in the manner that social media communications are worded to members, may provide evidence of “signaling” concerning unlawful price fixing, market divisions, or bid rigging. This may hinge on how a “reasonable person” in the particular trade would understand the wording. Careless language, without adequate legal review, should not be utilized.

Attorney-Client Privileged Communications

1. Utilizing email or other social media to communicate with one’s attorney may inadvertently waive (give up) the right to keep these communications confidential. While email may have a standardized ending paragraph that it is intended to be confidential, this may not always be effective.
2. Storage of communications in the cloud may sometimes waive privilege. Bar Associations are starting to address this issue.
3. Security firewalls and encryption provide solid technologically based arguments that the communication was intended to be confidential.

Bankruptcy And Debtor-Creditor Situations

1. Social media postings may reveal assets and sources of income.
2. Intent to defraud creditors is sometimes revealed on social media.
3. Evidence of one’s principal residence may be provided. Residency may be legally significant in numerous creditor and taxation situations.

Criminal Law

1. Postings and video of criminal acts provide evidence for prosecutors.
2. Evidence of gang affiliations may be provided or potential inter-connections in an ongoing criminal enterprise may be revealed.
3. Social media may be utilized to reveal the identity of criminals caught on surveillance cameras.
4. Endangered children and other “be on the lookout for” alerts utilize a variety of social media.
5. Sexting (sending sexually explicit images) is a crime but there is a legislative movement to reduce the penalties when all the participants are minors.
6. Due to First Amendment protections it is difficult to write an anti-cyberstalking statute. Some prosecutions utilize related statutes addressing threats or harassment.
7. Police and administrative surveillance activities, including reviewing open social media, do not require a search warrant. “Reasonable suspicion” is typically not required in surveillance. Additionally, courts tend to hold that individuals lack “standing” to sue concerning broad data collection. New technologies make it increasing easy to review large quantities of data. What agencies are authorized by law to collect specific types of information is an ongoing issue.


1. Defamation involves false statements that damage character or reputation. Libel (written) and slander (spoken) are subsets of defamation. Libelous statements may appear in social media. The difficult issue is whether or not one may compel the revelation of the identity of anonymous posters. Many contemporary cases utilize a balancing test between the First Amendment right to anonymous speech and the strength of the defamation claim coupled with the necessity for disclosure as the only method to obtain redress of the injury.
2. A related series of legal issues surround anonymous online reviewers of products and services. May consumer contracts provide enforceable financial penalties for negative reviews? Some courts have classified these reviews as commercial speech having less protection than religious or political speech.
3. Numerous decisions cite a provision within the Communications Decency Act as providing Internet service providers with immunity from defamation claims. “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. Sec. 230). However, if the service provider either creates the content or provides editorial commentary on the content, that activity may provide a basis for liability.

Divorce And Family Law

1. Evidence of affairs is provided by social media such as the Internet, Facebook, and Dating Services.
2. On-line commentary by spouses and children indicate state of mind, both positive and negative, and fitness to have custody.
3. Evidence of assets, job prospects and resources may be available.
4. Violation of custody orders and travel restrictions may be provided by photos and vacation information.
5. Violation of protective orders and stalking may occur through “pokes,” “friend requests,” and Tweets.
6. A variety of Facebook or Internet friendships may indicate potential bias and connections by experts, professionals, and others who may testify.

Employment Law

1. Vacation photos and activity videos may contradict disability claims.
2. Under the federal National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 151 – 169), employees have the right to engage in self-organization and “to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) interprets social media as a potential form of protected employee communication if utilized for work-related subject commentary.
3. Employers frequently require employees to surrender privacy rights when computers, cellphones, internet access, email, etc. are provided by the employer. Employers typically own the contents of company social media accounts and may prevent former employees from utilizing or in any manner profiting from them. Social media usage may be tied to a non-competition agreement. These provisions tend to be legally enforceable.
4. Public employees in particular may have both First Amendment and Fourth Amendment protections when utilizing social media. The U.S. Constitution restricts the actions of government, including governmental employers.
5. Social media, especially email, may provide evidence that supports a claim of unlawful discrimination.
6. “Morals clauses” in employment and endorsement contracts may be violated by social media activities.
7. While a variety of background information may appear on social media, employers must exercise care not to utilize this information in an unlawfully discriminatory manner, as an invasion of privacy, or to unlawfully prevent protected “mutual aid and protection.”
8. There is a tension between employers controlling or investigating the social media activities of employees and engaging in unlawful restrictions or invasions of privacy.
9. Employers should consult an experienced attorney in developing and communicating a social media policy to employees, as well as before goggling applicants or otherwise reviewing social media activity.

Intellectual Property Protection

1. Realize that while intellectual property owners need to be vigilant in looking through social media for infringing behaviors, postings, etc., there are public relations and media relations issues surrounding the appropriate response. A blunt “cease and desist letter” in legalese may or may not be appropriate in a given situation.
2. Trade secrets and other valuable intellectual property may be revealed in careless social media postings. Once published, without adequate confidentiality safeguards, trade secrets may be lost.

Personal Injury Litigation

1. Social media provides evidence that may either confirm or dispute an asserted physical injury or emotional distress. Photos of physical activity and apparent happiness may undermine claims.
2. Evidence of stalking, invasion of privacy, and infliction of emotional distress may be provided by social media.
3. Sometimes professionals, such as police or health care providers, inappropriately distribute video of accidents or medical procedures, or are recorded mocking victims.
4. As an additional example, traffic accident litigation may be supported by social media content that demonstrates intoxication or reckless conduct.

Securities Law

1. Sales of securities are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). “Crowdfunding” and related regulations involving the new media are being developed.
2. Prohibited trading on “insider information” may be facilitated through social media.
3. What constitutes permissible or impermissible individual and corporate speech in the securities market continues to unfold.

Settlement Agreements Containing Confidentiality Provisions

1. Social media postings concerning settled litigation may violate the confidentiality provisions of the settlement agreement, resulting in significant financial court sanctions.

This comment provides a brief and incomplete educational overview of a complex topic and is not intended to provide legal advice. Always consult an experienced attorney in specific situations.

Source: Huffington Post