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Even Deleted Material on Social Networking Sites Can Be Used Against You in Court

William Bill Hurst -Your Indiana Lawyer

Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

No matter how familiar this world gets with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, it still seems that some people ignore an obvious truth: the words, ideas, pictures and things you put online can be used against you. Just as personal communications, recollections, notes, and even a person’s diary are discoverable in a civil lawsuit, so too are most things online. This is true even if your “privacy settings” are turned up to their limits.

It is old news to the legal community that Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other such networking sites can either be a goldmine for incriminating knowledge or a landmine waiting to ruin a case. Numerous courts have come out reinforcing the idea that content posted on such sites is discoverable, usually with the justification that anything posted on such an account is quasi-public and thus there is no real expectation that the material is private. State and Federal Courts have been ruling that the opposing party may be given access to private photos and comments that are relevant to the various claims being made by the other side in a lawsuit. In Indiana, a federal judge ordered production of requested social media on the pretense there is no expectation of privacy on anything that is posted on Facebook and other social media sites by the litigants. EEOC v Simply Storage Management, LLC, 270 FRD 430 (S. Dist. Ind. 2010). Cases are also replete with instances where testimony from a party or a witness is contradicted by social media produced by the other side. An accident victim claiming pain, suffering, and near paralysis can easily be painted as a liar by Facebook pictures on the sandy beaches of Cabo San Lucas.

Indianapolis Personal Injury LawyerAs technology becomes more mainstream, details of the extent of discoverability are still being fleshed out. Recently, in the case of Romano v. Steelcase Inc., 2010 WL 3703242 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Sept. 21, 2010), the New York Supreme Court held that not only were private posts accessible by the other party through discovery, but even deleted material was accessible. As some privacy advocates will tell you, even after you delete material on a social media site that material will usually be stored (sometimes indefinitely). For example Facebook’s privacy policy states that “[r]emoved and deleted information may persist in backup copies for up to 90 days, but will not be available to others” (it should be noted that there are subsequent privacy policy statements about cooperating with legal requests). So in the instance of material off Facebook, material would typically remain discoverable for up to 90 days even after being deleted.

The general rule seems to be if you put it on the internet, you have no expectation of privacy, and therefore it’s likely going to be discoverable even if you try to hide it. The moral of this story is don’t put anything on the internet that you don’t want to be seen, even if you are planning on deleting it. One may also assume that in this current day and age insurance companies will start monitoring and copying social networking accounts immediately after an accident occurs.

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If we’re unable to obtain a settlement of verdict for you we eat the costs we’ve advanced to litigate your case, which includes costs for ordering medical records, filing your case, hiring experts, deposing witnesses, and many other things.

If we do settle your case or obtain a verdict for you our standard rate is 33% of the settlement or verdict, plus reimbursement for the expense we’ve previously advanced. Our fee never increases like some personal injury attorneys, even if we have to take your case to trial.

Our Fees

It cost $0 up front to hire our office. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we settle your case or obtain a verdict on your behalf.

If we’re unable to obtain a settlement of verdict for you we eat the costs we’ve advanced to litigate your case, which includes costs for ordering medical records, filing your case, hiring experts, deposing witnesses, and many other things.

If we do settle your case or obtain a verdict for you our standard rate is 33% of the settlement or verdict, plus reimbursement for the expense we’ve previously advanced. Our fee never increases like some personal injury attorneys, even if we have to take your case to trial.

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As a victim, establishing damages, negotiating with the insurance company, or filing a lawsuit can be daunting and next to impossible without the assistance of an experienced lawyer. As a result, if you have been hurt in an accident, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you recover the compensation to which you are entitled under Indiana law.

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Choosing an attorney that has experience dealing with personal injury law is important to protect your legal rights. If you are trying to recover damages from a business or other type of organization, you can bet that they are going to have a legal team on their side.

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