People often ask me: “Is social media such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook discoverable in a civil lawsuit?” Surprisingly, the answer is yes. In fact, we give our clients specific instructions regarding what and what not to do with social media when involved in legal proceedings.
To give you an example of the types of requests that some insurance companies have made to our clients in discovery, take a look at these demands we recently received from one of the most well-known names in the insurance industry.
Please provide the following information for each social media outlet with which you have an account from one year prior to the date of injury made subject to this litigation until the present:
- Names of the social media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Etc.
- Your user name.
- Screen name (if different than user name)
- Login and password information
We object to providing our clients login and password information, as this would be not allowable under discovery. However, courts have ruled that all of your public social media posts are discoverable and therefore should not be destroyed or erased in the event of litigation.
In a case such as a car crash where there are serious injuries, it’s always helpful to be mindful of the disclosures that you make publicly in any manner. Especially since most personal injury attorneys place their client’s health at issue in the lawsuit. Subject to disclosure is virtually unlimited scope of your previous medical history including medical records from any mental or physical condition, whether it is the related or separate and distinct from your injuries sustained in the accident.
The best lawyers fight for the client’s privacy and require a court to, at a minimum, limit the scope of this disclosure. Most social media posts would not be relevant to personal injury lawsuits in the first place. In Mississippi, courts are granted significant discretion in deciding what is and what is not discoverable when it comes to social media. When you are hiring an attorney, you need someone who understand the way in which discovery of social media is handled, and one who is capable of protecting you from intrusive discovery of your social media accounts. I have dealt with the biggest insurance companies in the country, and time and time again have succeeded in protecting my client’s privacy. We strive to make litigation as stress-free as possible for our clients, and when you work with our firm, your privacy will be held in the highest regard.