The issue of the admissibility of social media posts is in Virginia personal injury cases has recently become a hot topic. Across the country, courts have come up with different methods of handling this sensitive information. Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case presenting the court with the opportunity to discuss whether a plaintiff’s private social media account should be made available to the defendant.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff sustained a serious brain injury after falling off a horse that was owned by the defendant. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff claimed that her active lifestyle was curtailed, due to the limitations from which she now suffered. As evidence of these limitations, the plaintiff explained that she used to be very active on social media, but she closed her account six months after the accident because she was having a difficult time composing messages and writing posts.
After hearing this, the defendant sought access to the plaintiff’s private Facebook account. The defendant did not request access to the entire Facebook, just pictures from before and after the accident, as well as the length of the messages the plaintiff sent after the accident. Apparently, the defendant wanted to see if the plaintiff’s claims that she could not effectively compose messages were verifiable.
The lower court granted the defendant access to the requested information. However, on appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision, limiting disclosure to only the pictures that the plaintiff was planning on introducing at trial. The defendant then appealed to the state’s high court.
On appeal to the state supreme court, the case was again reversed, this time in favor of the defendant. The court began by noting that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to determining the disclosure of a litigant’s social media account. The court explained that disclosure largely depends on the facts of each case, and courts should not permit parties to go on “fishing expeditions.”
Here, the court explained that the plaintiff put some of the information that was likely contained in her social media account at issue when she brought up closing her account due to her injuries. The court went on to discuss how the defendant’s request was not all-inclusive, and it was sufficiently tailored to prevent the unnecessary disclosure of personal information.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently suffered any kind of brain injury in an accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Virginia personal injury claim. At the Law Offices of Charles B. Roberts, we represent clients in a wide range of Virginia personal injury and wrongful death cases, and we are knowledgeable in the evidentiary rules that apply to these cases. To learn more, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
See More Blog Posts:
Court Precludes Defense Expert from Testifying in Recent Spa Injury Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 19, 2018.
Obviousness of the Hazard in Virginia Premises Liability Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 5, 2018.