As you post videos your cute fluffy cat, your fancy dinner, or your ski trip to the Alps, it’s hard to imagine that these videos could be of interest to anyone but your circle of friends. However, social media content is increasingly being used as evidence in court proceedings.
In short, yes, it is possible for your social media to be used as evidence in court.
In this Article
Relevant Social Media Evidence
Generally speaking, a plaintiff or defendant can submit relevant social media evidence to support their claims in an Illinois lawsuit. This can include status updates, pictures, videos, comments and replies to posts. In order for the content to be legally acceptable as electronic evidence in court though, it must meet specific criteria.
For instance, the social media content must be properly authenticated and validated in order to prove its authenticity. The party submitting such evidence must also demonstrate that it is related to the case at hand and that it is relevant to the legal issue in dispute. In addition, any information obtained from a third-party source such as a social media platform must be obtained in accordance with the federal rules of civil procedure and evidence.
Other Factors Courts Consider When Admitting Social Media Evidence
When it comes to admissibility, courts may consider a variety of factors when evaluating social media content as evidence. These include whether or not the content was intentionally posted or shared, whether it is relevant content to the case at hand and if it has been tampered with or altered.
According to the American Bar Association, it is possible that social media content will be discoverable in civil cases if the information being requested can lead to relevant information in the case. For example, if you filed a claim that you severely injured your back in a motor vehicle accident and you made a Facebook post a couple of days following the accident performing a back bend at a bar, then this Facebook evidence is discoverable because it can lead to relevant information that can determine the extent of your claimed injury.
Your Personal Injury Case and Posts on Social Media Platforms
By understanding how your social media posts may be used in court, you can take steps to protect yourself and ensure that your rights remain intact throughout the legal process. If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of another party and have questions about how your social media posts could be used as evidence in a personal injury case, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney. The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers are here to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
How Your Social Media Might Help or Hurt Your Personal Injury Case
If you’ve been seriously injured, it’s important to be aware of how your social media posts or pictures might affect your personal injury claim.
Relevant Evidence on Social Media Sites that May HURT Your Claim
For instance, if you post a picture of yourself on vacation with the hashtag “living my best life” just days after filing a personal injury lawsuit, this could be seen as circumstantial evidence that you were not really injured.
How Facebook Posts Could HELP Your Claim
On the other hand, your social media account could potentially provide evidence of your injury. For instance, if you posted pictures of yourself in a hospital bed or with medical equipment, this could be seen as corroborating evidence of your injuries. Additionally, pictures or posts that demonstrate the impact your injury has had on your life, such as posts about not being able to do certain activities or participate in hobbies, could also be viewed as helpful evidence.
Ultimately, if you are pursuing a personal injury claim, it’s important to use caution when posting on social media and to understand that your posts may be used as evidence in court. Before posting anything on social media platforms, be sure to consult with your personal injury lawyer.
What is the Limit on How Much Social Media is Allowed in Court?
The amount of social media that is allowed in court will vary with each case. In most cases, the attorneys can work it out amongst themselves and agree to a time frame where the request will stop. For example, they may agree to requesting only pictures and content from the date of the accident to 3 months prior.
However, reaching this agreement can also involve the courts. In Scott v. USPS, the plaintiff filed a civil action and sought damages for personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. One defendant requested discovery of the plaintiff’s social media specifically about her activities since the accident, which involved physical activity, and submitted with a motion a post-accident image of the plaintiff and her fiancé in ski attire on a mountain. The plaintiff resisted the discovery.
The court was left to decide how much more evidence from the plaintiff’s social media accounts could be used. The court found that the information requested was discoverable, but also limited the social media postings from the date of the accident forward. They also required that any submitted posts needed to relate to her alleged physical injuries.
This case is an example of how the court may limit the amount and type of evidence from social media that can be used in a personal injury claim.
Can Private Content on Social Media Be Used in Court?
When it comes to social media being used in court there are privacy and ethical considerations that could be taken into account. Even if your account is set to private, the content might still be used in court if the requested information is relevant to the case. When a request is made for your personal social media account, the court may order that you turn over any content that can be considered relevant to the case.
It’s important to note, however, that courts are required to take into consideration whether the information being requested can lead to relevant information in the case. For example, if you filed a personal injury lawsuit and the other party requested access to your entire social media account, they would likely only be granted partial access or a time frame of information relevant to the case.
Overall, it is possible for your social media to be used as evidence in court, but the extent of what can be used depend on the type of personal injury claim and the judge’s ruling. It is important to be mindful of what you post on social media, as it could potentially impact your case. As such, it is best to be careful about what you share online, especially if you are pursuing a personal injury claim.
In one example court case, a plaintiff brought a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer and distributor of a chair she claimed to be defective. The plaintiff fell from the chair and sustained injuries that she claimed confined her to her bed and home. The defendant requested social media data from the plaintiff’s private postings on Facebook and Myspace. The request was opposed by her attorneys claiming it violated her privacy and it was irrelevant to the lawsuit. The court disagreed with the plaintiff stating that that since she put her physical condition at issue, she cannot hide material that may be relevant to the lawsuit. This is an example of how the court may gain access to such digital evidence even when an account is not public.
Have a Question About Your Personal Injury and Social Media Evidence?
If you have a question about whether or not social media evidence can be used in your Illinois personal injury case, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process. An experienced attorney at The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers will be able to review the facts of your case and advise you on what type of information may be requested by the other party in a social media investigation and how to protect yourself from potential consequences.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our legal team is here to help you get the compensation you deserve.