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Florida Court Discusses Admissibility of Social Media Evidence in Hit and Run Case

If you have been injured in a hit and run car accident, you probably have many questions. Our trusted Miami injury attorneys can take a close look at your case and help you understand your legal rights and options following a crash. At our firm, we understand how stressful it can be dealing with a hit and run accident because of the uncertainty it creates in terms of how you should proceed. But rest assured that you have options. We understand the nuances of Florida personal injury law and can apply it to your case.

In a recent case, a 28-year old man has been accused of causing the death of a rising MMA star in a hit and run accident this past May. The State claimed that the man drove recklessly while intoxicated after having left a bar. After the accident, the man supposedly went to a buddy’s house, “posted” something pertaining to the wreck online and hid the car he had been driving before getting it repaired.

Florida law requires drivers of all vehicles involved in a collision to stop their vehicle and stay at the scene. In fact, drivers are not allowed to depart the scene of a wreck until they have provided their names, addresses, and registration numbers for the automobiles they were driving. In addition, drivers must share their driver’s licenses information to any person, driver, or passenger who has been hurt due to the accident. If possible, drivers are also required to provide reasonable assistance to an individual who is hurt, including calling 911 if necessary.

In the case at hand, the plaintiff sued the defendant’s mother as the owner of the vehicle and the bar where he was allegedly drinking prior to the accident. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant had a long history of alcohol abuse that was known to the bar. The discovery in question during appeal pertained to social media postings made by the defendant. Specifically, an interrogatory asked the defendant to point out each of his social media accounts and asked for signed authorization to get his social media data from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. The plaintiff also asked for defendant’s credit card statement from the night of the accident to show the defendant spent money at the bar, which would help show intoxication.

The defendant argued that production of these records would violate his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. The trial court agreed with the plaintiff and ordered the defendant to turn over the information that had been requested.

The defendant filed writ of certiorari in an effort to quash the discovery order. The Fourth District Court of Appeal, however, agreed with the lower court and denied the petition. The appeals court reasoned that the defendant did not establish the connection between the requested information and the evidence that was required to prove he was guilty. Even though the credit card statement may show he spent money at the bar, that evidence by itself is not enough to prove intoxication. As for the social media evidence, the defendant failed to irrefutably show how that evidence could serve as a connection to being incriminated. Furthermore, the appeals court pointed out that the defendant failed to demonstrate how it could be linked to incrimination. In addition, the defendant had posted information to the public so it was illogical to expect the privilege to attach to a post that anyone could find and see. In sum, the defendant was not entitled to a writ of certiorari to quash discovery orders obliging him to provide social media. An important takeaway from this case for all civil personal injury cases is that it is entirely possible that social media evidence will be used in your case.

If you have been hurt in a hit and run accident, we can help. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our diligent Miami car accident attorneys understand the different ways we can collect evidence to bolster your case. To learn more about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).