Social Media Posts Are Fair Game as Evidence in Court

The Wall Street Journal Legal blog recently reported on an issue that I routinely see in depositions. Insurance defense attorneys are mining social media sites for evidence against personal injury plaintiffs, and recent court decisions have affirmed the unprivileged nature of said information.

For instance, in Pennsylvania parties in a lawsuit asked a district judge to conduct a review of the plaintiff’s social networking profiles to determine what was subject to discovery. The court identified relevant information, such as “photographs and comments suggesting he may have recently ridden a mule,” which the court thought the defense could use to argue against the plaintiff’s claims that he had been injured in a car accident.

Another example comes from a lawsuit involving divorce in which the wife claimed an automobile collision and resultant surgery had left her unable to work, thereby justifying monthly alimony payments. Her spouse presented evidence from her Facebook and MySpace accounts detailing her belly dancing exploits four years after her surgery, which the judge considered and ultimately used to deny the wife the lifetime monthly support checks she sought from her ex-husband.

So next time you post a status update or Tweet something about your life, consider the possibility that it may become evidence in a lawsuit.

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