HOW DOES SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECT A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?

Social media is everywhere. Do you know anyone that doesn’t have a Facebook account? If you happen to know that ONE person who is not on Facebook, then odds they are one of these: LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and the list goes on.

Most people believe that if they set their setting to “private” that they have thus created an expectation of privacy. This is just not so. In fact, the courts have decided that anything, with certain exceptions, that you put on these social media sites could be discoverable. Discoverable means that in a lawsuit you can be compelled to provide to the other side any and all photographs, videos, posts, comments, etc. that have any bearing on the case. This includes anything that someone else posts and “tags” you in it.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Who cares?” “I don’t have anything to hide!” But what about this scenario, you are in a car accident and claim injuries that include some memory loss. You file a lawsuit. In the midst of the lawsuit, you post a picture of you holding a test where you received an “A.” The defense will more likely than not try to use that test against you stating “How can she say that she is having memory problems yet got a superior grade?” However, the defense doesn’t know that you studied twice as long as you would normally have to, you were allowed to take notes into the test and were given extra time to take the exam.

Let’s use another example of a client of ours who lost the lower half of one of her legs. She received a prosthetic leg and proceeded to try to live her life to the fullest despite her handicap. The defense set up surveillance and “caught her” riding motorcycles and jet skis and rather than commending her for overcoming such a tragedy, the defense attempted to use that against her. Now, that was before social media became what it is today. But the premise is still the same. If she had posted pictures of her doing these activities, the defenses certainly would have requested copies and they more likely than not would be allowed to get those copies. Please be careful of what you post because once you put something on the net, it is there. You cannot get rid of it. So think twice before you do.

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Jeffrey Meldon
Founder of the Meldon Law Firm