Social media posts suppressed in medical malpractice case

Anyone with any type of experience with the legal system, and even those who watch courtroom dramas on television, know the importance of evidence. Essentially, the strength of your evidence compared to the strength of the other side's evidence makes the difference in a case, regardless of type. Therefore, knowing the rules of evidence and how to use them to your advantage is key when entering into litigation. Those who fail to utilize these rules may be taken advantage of and find themselves facing unwanted outcomes.

But as our lives become more digitized, the rules of evidence become more difficult to apply. This can be seen in a recent New York appellate ruling in a medical malpractice case. There, the court of appeals suppressed Facebook posts as evidence. The posts, which were allegedly made by the plaintiff, indicated that he was very active, including going on long walks, exercising, and going to bars, despite being harmed by alleged medical malpractice. The plaintiff denied that he had made the posts.

The Facebook posts became the subject of a deposition of the plaintiff, who then sought to depose the individual who printed out the posts. The court found that the transcript from the plaintiff's deposition should be allowed, but that the Facebook posts themselves should be suppressed. The court reasoned that because the individual who apparently printed the posts was unavailable for deposition, there was no way for the posts' authenticity to be proved or disproved.

Evidence in the digital age has become more complicated, but digitization has also made evidence more available. This evidence could be key to an individual's medical malpractice case, and could mean the difference between losing, and recovering compensation for damages such as medical expenses and lost wages. With so much on the line, victims of hospital or doctor negligence owe it to themselves to acquire the help they need to put forth the strongest case possible.

Source: New York Law Journal, "Defense Use of Facebook Posts as Evidence Barred in Med Mal Case," Andrew Denney, April 27, 2017

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