We live in an age of social media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. These revolutionary platforms form the glue of relationships in the 21st Century. We live, work, and play through them. We share our vacations, families, and memories. They provide an avenue for self expression and social connections. They're essential to the modern world. This post is to provide you with a different view...
In Michigan, if you're engaged in a lawsuit, the rules of "Discovery" are broad. "Discovery" is the formal process by which legal parties learn information about the other parties' claims and defenses. The Michigan Court Rules call for broad "Discovery:"
"Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, .... including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of.... electronically stored information." MCR 2.306(B)(1)
"Discovery" casts a wide net, and for good reason. The scales of justice could never weigh true unless all the potential evidence for both parties were on the scales. However, broad "Discovery" also means that your social media accounts could be "Discoverable." They are not "Discoverable" in every case, as Discovery does have its limits. But certain behaviors of injured victims will "open the floodgates" of Discovery into your social media life. Not only is sharing your entire Facebook log an annoyance, it will usually harm your lawsuit.
From a practical standpoint, this means that all of your Facebook and Instagram posts could be used against you. If you've been involved in a motor vehicle crash or other personal injury, it's time to change your social media strategy. Here are Muth Law, PC's Top 5 Tips for Social Media.
The moment you post pictures of your car after a crash, a story about your slip and fall, or picture of the dog that bit you, you have made your social media accounts "Discoverable." While there are limits to Discovery, if a Defense Attorney or Insurance Adjuster finds any pictures of the crash, the ability to keep out the social media accounts becomes significantly hindered.
The moment you discuss your journey toward health on social media your account becomes "Discoverable." Resist the temptation to post the "ER Selfie," a picture of your first steps without crutches, or the progress of a healing scar. Posting this information "opens the floodgates."
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision or other personal injury, then you must assume that somebody is looking for you, even before any lawsuit is filed or you have talked to an attorney. The best way to find you is social media. Insurance Adjusters routinely look for all public postings of injured victims and store all the information they can find. It will always be used against you. Keeping your account private before any personal injury ensures this intrusive practice of shaming injury victims fails.
Every post you make of you having fun, smiling with friends, or going on vacation is simply another dagger of evidence proving that you're not hurt. Or it could show that your testimony about your injuries is not 100% accurate. Even pictures of you on vacation while injured, with a cast on your leg for example, are potentially damaging. Resist the temptation to post these pictures after a personal injury.
I have never seen a Facebook post win a lawsuit. I have seen them ruin them. Be careful, think twice before posting, and follow common sense.
Social Media is revolutionary. It connects us on a global scale to friends and strangers. But it also creates a trail of evidence in a lawsuit. And if you're not sensible then that evidence can unnecessarily damage your claim. Always employ a Sensible Social Media Strategy.
If you have questions about a motor vehicle crash or other personal injury, contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with our experienced Michigan attorneys. We'll listen as you tell us about your case, and we'll answer your questions based on more than 35 years practicing personal injury law.
Call Muth Law, P.C. at 734-481-8800, email us at Info@muthlawpc.com, or complete our online form. We look forward to helping you and your family.