A woman who is suing a former friend over a horseback riding accident that left her with permanent brain damage will not have to deliver her Facebook posts to opposing counsel, an appellate court decided recently. The defendant’s attorneys had requested access to the woman’s posts both before and after the accident.
The victim is suing her former friend for negligence in connection with an accident in which a stirrup ripped out of a saddle, causing her to fall off a horse and suffer permanent physical and psychological injuries. She claims that she is now unable to read and write. Opposing attorneys requested access to her Facebook posts to determine if her injuries were as severe as she claimed.
Social Media and Lawsuits
While the courts ruled in favor of this victim’s privacy, many other court decisions have allowed free access to a victim’s social media and have allowed evidence mined from those investigations to be used to support the defense. In some cases, social media posts have shown a very different picture than that which the victim was painting of the repercussions of an accident.
For example, if a person claims that she cannot walk after an accident, but then posts on social media that she is roller skating at a nearby rink, that evidence might be used in court to show that the victim is claiming an injury that is not real. These situations are not much different from those in which investigators used hidden cameras or interviewed witnesses to find information that shows that someone is malingering or claiming illness or injury that does not exist.
However, it is also possible that an innocent social media post can be used against a legitimate victim. For example, if a victim was bedridden but made a special effort to be at a parent’s birthday party, then posted photos to social media, the defense might use those photos to claim that the victim was not really hurt, even though that behavior was out of the ordinary in the victim’s day-to-day life.
Ultimately, social media probably does more harm than good for accident victims. The experienced attorneys at Fitzgerald Law Firm may be able to help you understand the implications of social media use in your case and help you devise a plan to avoid incriminating yourself unintentionally. Call today for a free consultation about your accident case.