ARE SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS USABLE IN PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS?
With the amount that we use social media to document our lives, it’s important to understand how social media impacts personal injury claims. Many of our Spear Greenfield clients have asked, “are social media posts admissible in personal injury lawsuits.” The answer to that question includes plenty of legal analysis and cites several case studies. According to FindLaw, the broad answer is, “if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, your status updates and other posts can be used against you in court.”
This answer makes it important to follow social media guidelines for personal injury victims. Consider your social media activity as public. Others can share or circulate personal details such as pictures or status updates of your activities. The best way to eliminate the impact of social media on a personal injury claim is to not post to social media during an active personal injury case.
A personal injury attorney can also guide you in managing your social media. The negligent party may use information on your social media profiles to hurt your personal injury case. The possible impact of social media on personal injury claims is shocking. You may unintentionally bring doubt upon your personal injury claims. Even a simple picture of you smiling days after an accident can cause doubt on your injury severity. To provide more information, the answers to questions related to social media and personal injury claims are below.
CAN SOCIAL MEDIA BE USED IN PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS?
According to the American Bar Association article, Limitations on Discovery of Social Media, social media content may be relevant to civil litigation and hence discoverable. Discoverable means the requested information is relevant to the case. It can help in determining the extent of your claimed injury. A picture, post, or status update can be used to contradict your claims of pain and suffering. When requesting social media content, the request has to be specific and targeted. This avoids using a social media profile for a “fishing expedition” for evidence.
IS THERE A LIMIT ON HOW MUCH MY SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE ALLOWED IN COURT?
As mentioned in the previous question, a request for social media content has to be specific and targeted. The attorneys involved usually negotiate as to how much of a social media profile is discoverable. Usually the plaintiff and defense attorneys work out the use of social media in a personal injury claim. In specific instances, this agreement can also involve the courts. For example, the defense may request social media content for 6 months following an accident. The plaintiff may try to limit the use of social media to 3 months after the accident or even resist the use of social media as evidence in the personal injury case.
In some situations, the decision to use a plaintiff’s social media profile rests with the court. This decision includes determining the time frame social media posts are discoverable and the types of social media activities that are discoverable. This limitation ensures that the defense does not make a request too broad.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY SOCIAL MEDIA IS REQUESTED FOR A CASE?
As mentioned above, social media posts may be used in a personal injury case if requested by the defendant. Your personal injury attorney’s job is to ensure that the request is reasonable and not overbearing. Your attorney will work to limit the social media information provided to posts, pictures, and information that are relevant to the personal injury case.
The topic of how social media impacts personal injury claims is important, but not all attorneys know how to navigate social media and personal injury claims. An experienced attorney will protect your best interests when your social media information is requested. The team of attorneys at Spear Greenfield have over 200 years of combined experience. We will guide you on how social media may impact your personal injury case and provide you advice on the subject. Reach out to Rand Spear and the Spear Greenfield team with any questions regarding a personal injury accident.