car accident lawyer Baltimore

Can Emails or Text Messages Be Used in an Injury Case in Maryland?

Communications made over email or text messages are often considered private, and people are usually uncomfortable with the idea of others having access to these messages. However, these messages might need to be disclosed in an injury lawsuit.

The discovery phase of a civil lawsuit requires both parties to exchange all the relevant information and evidence they have with each other. This is a crucial step, and information may only be withheld under very specific circumstances. While your texts and emails are private, they are not always protected from discovery. If a party refuses to turn over their texts and emails even after the opposing party has requested them, the court might compel the discovery of the messages. If you want to keep these communications out of the courtroom, there might be ways of excluding them from discovery. Messages that are privileged or simply irrelevant to the case may be protected. If you are worried about your texts and emails being used against you, there are certain things you should avoid to better protect yourself.

Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to get a free, private review of your case from our Maryland personal injury attorneys.

Using Text Messages and Emails in a Maryland Injury Case

Our conversations over text messages or email are usually private ones. We generally do not expect the details of these conversations to be disclosed to others. However, not everything remains private in a civil injury lawsuit. It is possible that your texts and emails will be disclosed in court as long as they meet the rigorous evidentiary standards imposed by the law.

Under the Maryland Rules of Evidence, various pieces of evidence and information from both sides must be exchanged during the discovery process. According to Md. R. Civ. Pro. Cir. Cts. § 2-402(a) a party in a lawsuit may obtain discovery of almost any matter that is not privileged. This includes electronically stored information like text messages and emails.

The rule goes on to explain that for this information to be within the scope of discovery, it must be relevant to the subject matter of the case. If the opposing party believes you have email or text conversations about the accident or your injuries that will shed light on the case, they can demand that you disclose it to them.

Remember, the discovery process goes both ways. If you are the plaintiff in a civil injury lawsuit and you believe the defendant has emails or text messages that can help you prove they negligently caused your injuries, our Baltimore personal injury lawyers can obtain those messages during discovery.

How to Obtain Emails and Text Messages to Use as Evidence in a Maryland Injury Case

As described above, emails and text messages may be obtained through the discovery process. Often, a plan for the discovery process, including how and when information is exchanged, is worked out between the parties and approved by the court. If one party wants copies of the other party’s emails or text messages, they must explain why these messages are relevant.

A party cannot use the discovery process as an excuse to demand to see information that has nothing to do with the case. If you are hesitant to hand over your emails and texts, we can ask the defendant to explain why they believe these messages are important.

If we must hand over this kind of information, we can tailor it to be the least invasive to your privacy. Rather than simply handing over total access to your emails, we might instead work out a period of time where any email you received or sent during this time is subject to discovery. We might narrow this down to the days and weeks shortly after you were injured.

We can also use the discovery process to obtain emails and text messages from the defendant that we believe are helpful to your case. If the defendant refuses to cooperate, we can seek help from the court in compelling discovery.

Preventing the Opposing Party from Using Texts and Emails Against You in a Maryland Injury Case

People communicate a lot over email and text messages nowadays. At any given time, many people have hundreds of emails in their inboxes and a library of text messages on their phones. Of course, you want to protect your privacy by keeping these communications out of the courtroom. However, if the opposing party wants to use your texts and emails as evidence against you, we can take steps to prevent this.

First, we should determine whether this information can be excluded from discovery. Discovery is very broad and encompasses almost anything that is relevant to the case and is not otherwise protected or privileged. If your messages are considered privileged, they might have extra legal protections.

These communications might be privileged if they are exchanged with certain people. For example, texts and emails between you and your doctor are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality. Similarly, attorney-client privilege protects messages to and from your attorneys.

Are these communications relevant? Even if your texts and emails are not privileged, they might not be relevant enough to be discoverable. The court does not want to waste time with evidence that has little bearing on the case.

Lastly, many statements in emails are going to be hearsay. Hearsay is barred from being used as evidence in court unless it meets an exception, which includes statements you made being offered against you and certain exceptions for business records.

Things to Avoid When Texts and Emails Are Used in Maryland Injury Cases

Avoid using emails or text messages to communicate directly with the opposing party. They may keep records of these communications and use them against you. On the flip side of that coin, if the opposing party communicates with you through text or email, save everything.

Do not discuss your accident, injuries, or overall case over email or text with anyone other than your doctors and attorneys. These communications are privileged.

Do not delete anything. If the opposing party wants to compel discovery of your emails and text messages, but you delete everything, you might be in big trouble for the destruction of evidence.

Talk to Our Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers to Get a Free Initial Case Evaluation

Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to get a free, private review of your case from our Laurel, MD personal injury attorneys.