I was in a car accident, now I have to turn over all my Facebook information?

Car accident lawyer Clearwater

When you are involved in a lawsuit, whether it be from a car accident, medical malpractice, or wrongful death your case will go into litigation and both sides (the Plaintiff and the Defendant) will conduct what we call “discovery.” Discovery, in simple terms, is where the Plaintiff and the Defendant seek to investigation all claims and defenses.  At this time your attorney begins to learn more about your case, as they depose  doctors, parties, and witnesses.  Discovery, however, is not limited to depositions, and interrogatories.  It is a time where your attorney requests information directly from the opposition.  When these requests fall within the scope of discovery your attorney may have to hand over what was requested.  The question you may be faced with is: Do I have to turn over all the information on my Facebook?

The answer, as it often is in the legal world is, maybe. First, there is no cases law on point in Florida, this means that the appellate courts have not heard a case on this issue.  So lawyers have been looking to other jurisdictions to argue their points.  Without looking at other jurisdictions, which have less persuasive value to judges, let’s look at the Florida law we do have.  Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.280 governs discovery and here’s what it says about general discovery.

(b)(1) In General. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter.  Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.280

Moreover, the Florida Supreme Court has gone on to say that, [d]iscovery in civil cases must be relevant to the subject matter of the case and must be admissible or reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence.” Allstate Inc. Comp. v. Langston, 655 So. 2d 91, 94 (Fla. 1995). So, I would argue that if a party wants the others Facebook information, they ought to have something more than a suspicion that you will find something that could lead to admissible evidence on a party’s Facebook page.  Without this sort of basis the opposing counsel is simply going on a fishing expedition, as defined by Blacks Law Dictionary is: an attempt, through broad discovery requests or random questions, to elicit information from another party in the hope that something relevant might be found; esp., such an attempt that exceeds the scope of discovery allowed by procedural rules.

There are many more arguments I would like to discuss on this issue because I feel it will become increasingly litigated.

If you would like to know more about how social media playing into litigation call Mark today 727.386.9677