Florida court allows Facebook photos as evidence in slip-and-fall case

In a slip-and-fall case from earlier this year, a Florida court ruled that Facebook users can have no reasonable expectation of privacy for the photos they post online. The decision has a significant impact on people who file slip-and-fall claims in the state as an increasing number of judges are compelling plaintiffs to produce social media-related information in court.

A Florida woman filed a lawsuit against Target Corp. for the injuries she allegedly sustained from a slip-and-fall accident while working at one of the company’s stores. During a subsequent deposition in Sept. 2013, the plaintiff refused to grant Target access to her Facebook photos. Target’s counsel claimed 36 photos on the woman’s Facebook page disappeared two days after the deposition.

The Florida District Court of Appeal, Fourth District, ruled that the woman had to disclose all of her Facebook photos from the previous two years. Target argued that the photos would allow for a comparison of the plaintiff’s current physical condition and her life before the accident. The company said they were relevant as the store’s surveillance video showed the woman “carrying heavy bags, jugs of water, and doing other physical acts” that suggested she exaggerated her personal injury claim.

The woman argued that the order was an invasion of privacy. However, a three-judge panel held that regardless of the Facebook privacy setting she chose, her photos were not protected by any privacy right. Facebook does not guarantee privacy and its users must acknowledge that their personal information may be shared with others. The court said the photos’ relevance to the case outweighed the plaintiff’s minimal expectation of privacy on social media sites.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If you were injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.