In January, I provided a recap of the top personal injury law articles for 2012. Now that we are well into the new year, I thought now was a good time to look ahead and see what is in store for the rest of 2013. One concept to pay attention to across the state of Pennsylvania is the continued request for the use of a person’s social media accounts. We actually saw the beginning of this trend late last year in this case from Monroe County where the judge “granted a defendant’s motion to compel the plaintiff to allow for social media discovery.”
Not surprisingly, the request for the use of a person’s social media accounts (even if they are private) is continuing right on into 2013. Tort Talk’s Daniel E. Cummins has another case for us. This time it is out of Schuylkill County. The court in this case is following the trend across Pennsylvania and provides further clarification on how social media discovery is handled.
In so ruling, the court in Hoy followed the trend of other decisions across the Commonwealth by coming to the following conclusions:
(1) There is no constitutional right to privacy or any privilege that prohibits discovery of a party’s social media activity;
(2) Material found on the public portions of one’s social media sites is discoverable; and
(3) Material located on one’s private pages of a social media profile are discoverable upon a showing of a factual predicate suggesting that allowing discovery of the private profile will lead to relevant information. If no such factual predicate is established, discovery of the private pages will not be allowed.
It is pretty simple. You need to watch what you post on your social media accounts. We can only expect the use of a person’s public and private (when relevant) social media pages, profiles, and pictures to increase. It will be interesting to see how this trend takes shape over the course of this year and in years to come.
If you have a personal injury matter, please call our Yardley office at 215-493-8287 or send us an email HERE. We will be glad to help.