You may not think your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn have very much bearing on the outcome of a lawsuit, but those personal things you post can be detrimental to your case. In reality, what you post on social media is not all that personal, no matter your settings. Saying the wrong thing in a post or being seen in a photograph doing activities that your suit would suggest to be difficult or impossible, could cost you your case.
In general, it’s best to stay quiet about your lawsuit — not just on social media, but in personal conversations as well. It is especially important to avoid talking about it with potential witnesses, as these conversations can be seen as evidence that could be used against you as questions in depositions or at trial.
Social Media’s Impact Is Great
According to the American Bar Association, attorneys use social media as an investigative tool for as much as 40 percent of their investigations, with larger practices devoting more time to profiles than smaller firms. That means things you say about your case, the injury that led to your case, or other people’s comments about either are unlikely to go unnoticed.
The trouble is, of course, is that people spend so much time on social media — airing political opinions and personal lives so prevalently — that it can be easy to damage a lawsuit in a single seemingly innocent post. Part of the problem is that social media is primarily written — though video posts could cause even more damage — and the tone of your posts can be open to a degree of interpretation, just as emails and texts can be.
What Should or Shouldn’t You Do?
If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, for example, and one of the reasons for the suit is physical restrictions, be mindful not to post photos that could make that claim appear to be a lie. Even if you think messages are sent privately between you and your friends or family, nothing is private when it comes to litigation. Courts once considered social media posts part of the federal “Stored Communication Act,” which meant that content which was considered private was not subject to disclosure in civil litigation. That since has changed, though, and plaintiffs and defendants alike are now required to consent to a search of their social media accounts.
Know that the opposition will scour your accounts to find photos that could be seen as incriminating or posts regarding your accident or injury that seem to contradict information you’ve given in a deposition.
Keeping your own social media clean is important, but make sure that friends and family also understand not to post about you and your lawsuit, or to tag you in photos of you on their own sites without your permission. Even a photo that seems innocuous could raise suspicion and allow the defense to plant seeds of doubt in a jury, negatively impacting your case. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident and have questions about your case, contact a personal injury lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer in West Palm Beach, FL, for more information on how to take care of your social media accounts and get the justice you deserve.
Thanks to The Law Office of Eric H. Luckman, P.A. for their insight into how social media can impact your lawsuit.