Social media has gone from a fun way to communicate online with friends to a massive part of our daily lives. People post about themselves online every day, but this information might come back to haunt you in a personal injury lawsuit.

Almost anything might be considered evidence, including your social media. If you sue someone for personal injuries, they might dig through your social media to find evidence that your injuries and damages might not be what you claim. Many people do not realize how readily available their social media profiles are to others. Anyone can see your profiles, including the defendant, if they are public. Even if you activate privacy settings, there might still be ways for the opposing party to obtain your social media content. The law provides some privacy protections regarding electronic communications, including social media, but they do not totally exclude your social media from the civil discovery process. If your social media content finds its way into the courtroom, your lawyer can help you take steps to protect yourself.

For a free case evaluation, call (732) 838-9769 and talk to our New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Legal Care New Jersey.

How a Defendant Might Use Social Media Against You in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in NJ

The defendant in your personal injury case might try to use your social media against you if they believe you posted information that contradicts your claims. Depending on what social media platforms you use, the defendant might search for posts, photos, and videos that somehow undermine your claims against them.

For example, if you post pictures of yourself at one of your basketball team’s games, the defendant might use this against you. They might argue that your injuries must not be that bad if you can play basketball after the accident. Often, defendants look for social media content posted shortly before and after the accident.

The defendant might instead use your social media to try to reduce your damages. Many plaintiffs in personal injury claims claim non-economic damages related to pain and suffering. Perhaps you posted a photo of yourself with friends at a party not long after the accident. The defendant might use this to argue that you are not suffering and are, in fact, quite happy in your life since the accident.

Your social media posts do not have to be directly related to your accident or injuries to be used against you. Of course, posts that discuss your case should be avoided, but even posts that seem harmless when you post them might come back to haunt you.

How Can Someone Use Your Social Media Against You in a NJ Personal Injury Lawsuit

When it comes to social media, the line between private communications and public information tends to be blurred. On the one hand, much of the information people post on social media is meant to be viewed by numerous other people. People with particularly large social media platforms might share information with hundreds or thousands of people. On the other hand, certain information shared on social media may be more restricted and available to only a select few people. This begs the question, how can someone use your social media?

Often, a person’s social media is used against them because it is completely public. For example, you might unknowingly have your privacy settings at the least restrictive level, meaning everything you post is available to everyone, even people you do not know.

If your social media profiles are not publicly available, the defendant might find other ways of seeing the information you post. The defendant might talk to people who know you and have access to your private social media. It is possible that people you know are sending screenshots and recordings of your social media profile to the defendant to be used to undermine your case.

Another possibility is that the defendant’s legal counsel demands to see your social media as part of discovery. If the defendant believes your social media is important and relevant to the case, and they can back up these claims, they might convince the judge to order you to provide your social media. Our Jersey City personal injury lawyers can help you argue against this and convince the court your social media should not be subject to discovery.

Is My Social Media Protected in NJ Personal Injury Lawsuits?

While certain laws serve to protect your privacy online, they might not exclude your social media profiles from civil discovery. In Davis v. Disability Rights New Jersey, the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled that laws that protect social media content and information do not necessarily exclude such content from being discoverable in civil proceedings.

However, just because social media is subject to discovery does not mean it must always be turned over to the opposing party. To be discoverable, the social media content should be relevant under N.J.R.E. § 401 and N.J.R.E. § 403. This is not always the case, even when the opposing party insists it is.

How to Defend Yourself Against Your Own Social Media Content in a NJ Personal Injury Lawsuit

One method of protecting your social media and shielding it from discovery is to argue that it is irrelevant and not subject to discovery. Under the rules mentioned above, evidence must be relevant to be subject to discovery. The defendant might insist you have posted damaging information about the accident and your injuries, and that your social media is relevant. However, if you have not posted anything, we can argue otherwise.

If your social media makes it into court, we might undermine it by providing additional context to the social media information. In many cases, a single photo or post, or even several posts, does not have enough context to convey the truth. For example, suppose the defendant uses photos posted to your social media to prove you are not injured. In that case, you can testify and explain where and how those photos were taken and why they do not indicate anything about your injuries.

Contact Our NJ Personal Injury Lawyers for Support Now

For a free case evaluation, call (732) 838-9769 and talk to our Trenton, NJ personal injury attorneys at Legal Care New Jersey.