March 28, 2023

How to Use Social Media as Digital Evidence in a Court Case

Social media was once reserved for college students and teenagers. That is no longer the case. Social networking now spans every generation and is pervasive in our society with many platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.  In Illinois, defense teams do not have the benefit of discovery, so a social media report can be an especially useful resource to quickly obtain information.  Claimants openly display information on their public profiles that once was only available with a really good day of surveillance. Like with surveillance, timing is key with social media analysis. The optimal time to order a social media search is as soon as possible after a work accident before the claimant makes their profile private. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when conducting a social media check:  

  • Explore the social media timeline around the accident date for any mention of non-work-related accidents or injuries.  
  • You may have to extend the search for years into the past to find prior injuries or complaints of pain.  
  • A claimant’s social media “check-ins” may alert you to hospital, doctor, physical therapy, or urgent care visits.  
  • Social media videos and pictures may show the claimant performing activities that violate their work restrictions.  
  • Expand the comments and replies. Claimants sometimes reply to comments offering sympathy by providing updates on their condition, which may contradict their reports to treatment providers.  
  • The social media profiles of the claimant’s close friends and relatives can produce helpful insights.  
  • If the case goes to trial, the social media investigator will either be deposed or called to testify regarding the digital evidence in the social media report.  
  • Ensure that all methodology and search methods used for the report are documented for authentication purposes.  

Many claimants document their work injuries and treatment via social media to garner attention and “likes” from their social media followers. Once they obtain representation, their attorneys will likely advise them to make their social media profiles private. Although a social media check will not always reveal useful information, you may be surprised at what people will post publicly on the Internet after a work accident. In the absence of discovery tools, many Illinois attorneys consider a social media report to be almost as valuable as an ISO report in generating defense leads.  

Our legal team is comprised of experienced litigators who have dealt extensively with social media issues in workers’ compensation. We will work with you to utilize the best investigation tools for your case. Email or call to schedule a meeting about how we can help meet your specific defense needs. 

Kristin E. Lechowicz
Partner, Workers’ Compensation
Kelley Kronenberg-Chicago,IL.