Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an interesting issue that frequently comes up in Maryland personal injury cases. The specific claim at issue was over the defendant’s access to the plaintiff’s private Facebook account.
The court ultimately concluded that the defendant met the necessary showing that the requested evidence was material and would likely lead to the discovery of relevant evidence. Thus, the court compelled disclosure of some of the information, posts, and photographs in the plaintiff’s private Facebook account.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff suffered a serious brain injury while riding a horse that was owned by the defendant. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the defendant. In her claim, the plaintiff noted that while she used to be very active on social media and enjoyed traveling, cooking, etc., she could no longer enjoy these activities because she had a difficult time composing messages that made sense. She also claimed that she had become reclusive, and, while she used to post on social media “a lot,” she rarely did so after the accident.
The defense requested access to some of the plaintiff’s private Facebook account materials, arguing that the information would be relevant to the plaintiff’s claims. The trial court sorted through the defendant’s request and ordered that select information be disclosed. Specifically, the court ordered disclosure of the private pictures the plaintiff posted after the accident, as well as the length of private messages she had sent. The content of the messages was not ordered to be disclosed.
Although much of the plaintiff’s Facebook account was kept private, she appealed the court’s ruling. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court’s order constituted an impermissible invasion of privacy. However, the court disagreed. The court explained that the plaintiff’s testimony regarding her social media activity put her Facebook account at issue, such that the defendant’s request was reasonable. The court explained that the defendant’s request was tailored sufficiently to avoid the disclosure of unnecessary information, and it was directed toward the discovery of relevant evidence. As a result, the court affirmed the lower court’s ruling releasing some of the information on the plaintiff’s private Facebook account.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a car, truck, or slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland brain injury lawsuit. The importance of social media evidence in personal injury lawsuits cannot be overstated. This evidence can be helpful or harmful to your case, and it is likely that the issue will come up at trial. The dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling all evidentiary issues arising in Maryland personal injury cases, including the admissibility of social media accounts. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Because Hazard Was “Open and Obvious”, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 18, 2018.
The Revisionary Power of Maryland Courts, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 1, 2018.