Social Media and Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Social media holds a very prominent place in society today. From posting pictures of meals to vacations to family members, many people spend so much time curating their social media presence many wonder how society functioned before. A lot of personal information about a person’s daily life and major events go on these platforms, and this transparency can be an issue in a personal injury lawsuit. Accordingly, if contemplating filing a personal injury suit, it is very important to be cognizant of one’s social media presence, and retaining the services of an attorney experienced in personal injury law can be crucial to understanding how to manage a social media presence. In fact, even some content that the individual considers to be private can be discoverable in a legal action, as seen in a New York case, which held that a New York woman’s private Facebook photos were, in fact, discoverable by the opposition. A discussion of the discovery process, generally, as well as how social media content can be exploited through discovery, will follow below.
The Discovery Process
Generally, the discovery process in Florida civil matters, which is governed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), is a pre-trial process that allows all parties to obtain evidence from one another by making certain requests. In addition, discovery can also be used against non-parties if they have pertinent information, but it must be requested through a subpoena, meaning the court’s approval is first necessary to ask for the disclosure of information. For purposes of social media content, a party may request any other party to produce any designated documents, including electronically stored information, such as that stored on one’s social media accounts.
Discovery of Social Media Evidence
Following an accident, an injured party may place content about the accident, and his/her injuries, on their social media accounts. In many ways, social media is the fastest way to update family members and friends living across the country and world about what is happening. Given that many people place content on their social media accounts, at first glance, it would seem that posting this information after an accident would be harmless. However, an injured party’s media content may become a problem when they provide insight into their physical and psychological condition. In fact, content regarding their injuries, medical treatment, abilities, pain, and activities may be used against them in court. The other party may seek to admit into court the content in an effort to prove:
- The individual is not suffering from their claimed injuries;
- The injuries are not as serious as they claim; or
- The individual’s life and well-being have not been as negatively affected by the injuries as asserted.
When determining whether social media content may be admitted in court, the court will examine the following:
- Whether the content is relevant;
- Whether the content’s demonstrative value is outweighed by unfair prejudice, confusion, or undue delay;
- Whether the content can be authenticated;
- Whether the content is hearsay;
- Whether the content is duplicative; and
- Whether the content was obtained lawfully.
If a party wishes to put forth social media content to counter the arguments of the other party, an experienced attorney can persuade the judge to deny the request.
Seek Legal Advice
If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. While the attorneys at our office have the knowledge and experience to help you in your lawsuit, more importantly, we will be able to counsel you on what not to do regarding your social media presence. Additionally, we can help formulate a strategy to exploit the social media presence of the other party. Finally, we will work with you to develop the best possible strategy to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact our Miami office today for a free initial consultation.