According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults use social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Social media use has jumped nearly tenfold in the decade from 2005 to 2015. People frequently share personal details, including photographs of families, activities, vacations, and pets. If you have been injured in an accident, you may also be tempted to share information about the event online – but don’t. In fact, while you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you should be careful about any information you share on social media, whether it deals directly with the incident or not. To paraphrase the familiar Miranda warnings in a criminal case – anything you say on Facebook can be used against you in court.
Social media posts as evidence of lack of injury
If you have been harmed by someone else’s negligence, whether through an automobile accident, medical malpractice or a dangerously defective product, you are likely seeking to recover damages for your injuries, including:
- Economic damages for expenses incurred and work missed; and
- Damages for pain and suffering, including long-term physical consequences affecting your ability to work, participate in relationships with others, and enjoy life experiences.
The defendant will be looking for evidence that your injuries and their ongoing consequences are not as severe as you claim. Social media profiles can be a bonanza for this kind of information, as articles on both The Huffington Post and Slate detail. Notwithstanding the fact that social media posts simply provide a snapshot of a moment in time, and most of us tend to emphasize only the good, photos of plaintiffs smiling, engaging in hobbies and celebrating with others have been used as evidence to show lack of ongoing physical injury and emotional anguish. In fact, in one instance a defendant argued that birthday greetings posted on a plaintiff’s Facebook page disproved her claims of anguish, anxiety and isolation from friends resulting from alleged gender discrimination.
Photographs posted on social media are discoverable
Keeping your social media profiles private and visible only to friends will not shield anything you post from discovery by the defendant in a lawsuit. In a recent Florida Court of Appeals case, a plaintiff sued Target for injuries stemming from a slip and fall in one of the company’s stores. Target asked her to provide it with copies of photographs posted on her Facebook page, which it claimed were relevant to demonstrate her current physical condition. Plaintiff’s Facebook page was visible only to friends, and she objected to Target’s request as a violation of privacy. The court ruled that individuals have only a minimal privacy interest in photographs posted to social media sites regardless of the privacy settings used. Moreover, the court concluded the photos were relevant as evidence of what plaintiff’s daily life was like, which had bearing on her damage claims. The takeaway here is that any pictures you post on social media are fair game in your personal injury lawsuit – so beware.
Consult a West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured because of another’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for your damages. The West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC, have been representing clients in personal injury matters in and around the West Palm Beach, Stuart and Boca Raton areas since 1927. Contact us for a free initial consultation about your case today.