Phones with cameras and internet capabilities have enabled people to snap a shot and post it online within minutes. Most of the time, people might use these smartphone features to showcase new outfits or delicious meals. But they can also come in handy if you ever get into an accident.
With a smartphone, you can take pictures of any damage to your property and yourself. These photos can be helpful for insurance purposes. If you plan on filing a suit against the party you believe to be responsible for your injuries or damage, the same photos can help your personal injury lawyer build a better case.
But what if, through forgetfulness or unfortunate circumstances, the only photos or videos documenting your accident and its effects are on social media? Can you still use these to win your case?
Are They Admissible?
The court must declare that the photos and videos are admissible in court. Court officials can determine the admissibility of photo and video evidence on social media if you prove that they are authentic, with documented creator, source, or custodian. You also have to establish their relevancy to the case.
You need to answer the following questions in a satisfactory manner for your evidence to be declared authentic:
- How did you take the photos or videos?
- Who took them and handled them before being collected by the court?
- When did you take the photos and videos?
- Where were did you take or collect them?
Because most social media accounts have password, you can use this fact to prove to the court that only you could upload images and photos to your accounts. This could be of some help in proving their authenticity to the court.
Relevancy simply means that the photos and videos you are presenting as evidence can be clearly associated to your case.
Objection Tactics You Can Expect
The attorney defending against your claims can use a number of objection tactics to render your social media photos and videos inadmissible. Some of the most common methods are as follows:
- Argue that the photos and videos give the subject an unreasonable representation that might lead to undue prejudice
- Point out that poor visibility, bad weather, or the time of day can obscure the image, which can cast doubt on whether or not it actually portrays the events in question
- Demand the evidence be deemed as hearsay because there is no witness that can be cross-examined
- Dispute that the photos and videos on social media are not the best evidence, and that the original videos are the superior evidence.
If you ever get into an incident, make sure that you collect photographs and videos with care. You should always keep the original photos and videos of any accident or incident that you’re taking to court. But if for some reason you lose the original files, you can turn to your social media account. They could contain the evidence you need to win your case.