Social media includes Facebook, Twitter, Google+, MySpace, Blogs and other social networks. When you bring a lawsuit, the Defendant will likely request access to, or a copy of, social media pages. They will want copies of photos, status updates and posts by others about you. They could even ask for your passwords so they can have access to non-public information about you. Online photos and posts are increasingly being used as evidence in courts. Photographs of accident victims having fun or being on vacation with family can be used in Court to undermine your case.
During pending litigation, the best practice is to stop using all social media accounts while litigation is ongoing. DON’T delete evidence relevant to the case (ie. photos) since there may be legal obligations to preserve evidence. We understand how integrated social media is a part of our everyday lives. If you choose to keep a social media page, we offer the following recommendations:
You can assume if your social media pages are open to the public, the Defendant has or will look at your pages. We do not recommend that your pages be public under any circumstance.
PRIVATE OR NON-PUBLIC ACCESS
If you have a page, make it private! Make sure all aspects of your page are private – status updates, photos, “about” or profile pages, etc. Check and see what the page looks like to the public. For example, most profile pictures on Facebook are public, despite the settings.
We advise that you watch what is posted about you by others about you. There is no clear legal answer on whether you will be ordered by the Court to produce this information. This is a very new area of discovery litigation. Some Courts will order production of limited items and other Courts may order that ALL of it can be viewed by the Defendant. Even if your page is private, don’t assume that it will stay private during the course of a lawsuit.
Prohibit others from “tagging” you in photographs, because these frequently show up to the public.
Status updates – It is best not to discuss your injury or activities. If you do post/blog your status, the Court might order these to be produced in the lawsuit. For example, if you had a hand injury and your post says that you did lots of laundry, the Defendant would question the seriousness of your injury.
Friends – If you have mutual friends with the Defendant, then your page is as good as public. Do not accept any friend requests from people that you do not know.
The Law – It is unclear if your social media will have to be produced during litigation. Do not put anything out there that you would not want public. Insurance companies are very skilled at painting a picture of your life that is different from reality!
Our personal injury law firm, Logeman, Iafrate & Logeman has been helping accident victims throughout Michigan recover the compensation they need to rebuild their lives and take care of their families for over forty-five years. Our personal injury law practice is prepared to handle claims involving car accidents, uninsured accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, pedestrian accidents, traumatic brain injury, no fault, and more! Call us today for a Free Case Evaluation.