Social media has become extremely prevalent in our society over the past few years. There are currently close to 1.7 billion people who have active social media accounts. Indeed, the ability to simply log in and post on social media using a personal mobile device has drastically increased the volume of users worldwide. The legal world has also began to feel the effects of the widespread popularity of social media, especially the personal injury niche of the legal world.
While some social media users utilize social media to keep in touch with old friends or share exciting news, others use social media to literally document their daily lives. What most people do not realize, however, is that what they post on a social networking site may be discoverable in a future lawsuit. Therefore, it is important to be cautious with what you are posting on social media, especially as it relates to any personal injury matters, especially automobile accidents, you may have been involved in.
What Social Media Posts Can Insurance Companies See?
More often than not, defense attorneys are attempting to access clients’ social media activity through discovery requests. These requests typically demand access to any and all social media posts, photographs and sometimes even usernames and passwords for a period of time prior to the accident through the present. Indeed, these requests are extremely broad and likely objectionable. However, the general rule is that anything deemed “relevant” to the accident is admissible. So while the defense will not be granted unfettered access to your social media accounts, they will be allowed to access anything you post that is in any way related to the accident. This may even include posts that make no mention of the accident, but instead relate to your physical activity either before or after the accident.
For example, if you claim you are so severely injured that you have trouble sitting or standing for any significant period of time yet you post photos or videos of yourself waterskiing on Lake Michigan, the defense will eat that right up. As long as posts are even tangentially related to your personal injury claim, they are discoverable.
We often advise clients to assume that anything they post on social media will be seen by the at-fault party’s insurance company. The purpose behind that statement is to discourage them from posting anything related to the accident that may harm their case.
Be Cautious When It Comes to Social Media
With the relatively broad scope of discovery as it relates to social media content, it is crucial to proceed with caution following involvement in an automobile accident. The simplest and most straightforward advice is this: Do not post anything related to the accident or your injuries on social media. If you do, you must understand that it will likely be discoverable and work to your detriment by decreasing the value of your case.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident and have questions about the appropriate steps to take going forward, contact the Groth Law Firm. We have an experienced and driven team dedicated to helping injured people and protecting their rights. Call today for a free consultation.