What Your Attorney Says About Social Media Use During Your Legal Matter
In the last decade, we have witnessed the creation of various social media platforms and websites. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Google, it is easier than ever to connect with the world around us. With the rise of social media platforms, comes an increase in free, readily-available information. The more information is posted and shared, the more personal injury clients must be cautious about the kind of information they are sharing.
Insurance companies, investigators, and defense attorneys often monitor social media accounts for the purposes of embarrassing and humiliating claimants and claiming that an injury was exaggerated or falsified. Insurance companies have successfully used such information to convince a jury that a plaintiff has been dishonest. For example, if you are claiming to have a back injury from your accident, you could be discredited for posted a photo or video of you doing cartwheels. It is important to always be aware of what you are posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, email, etc., even if you have the highest privacy settings.
Here are a few practical dos and don’ts for injured individuals:
Social Media DO’s:
- Consider taking down your social media sites for the duration of your case.
- Make sure your privacy settings are at the highest levels.
- Be careful who your “friends” are. Only accept friend requests from people you actually know.
- Consider “untagging” yourself from photos on social media sites.
- Be cautious. Assume anything you post can and will be viewed by defense attorneys, judges, and potentially juries.
- Make yourself “invisible”. Review the settings for each social media account you own and determine if there is an option for “invisibility”. Remove yourself from Google searches by going to your Internet Privacy Settings and unchecking the box for Public Search Listing.
Social Media DON’Ts:
- Overshare information. Your case is between you and your attorney. Any information you share with insurance adjusters, opposing counsel, defendants, friends and acquaintances can be used to discredit your case.
- Post anything regarding your case on social media sites. While it is understandable to be frustrated or angry after an accident, any information posted can be used to discredit your case.
- Assume your accounts are off-limits since they are private. Insurance companies and defense attorneys can request a judge to grant them access to your social media sites, even if you have the highest privacy settings.
A solid case can be devalued or ignored by the misuse of a social media platform. If you choose to continue with the use of social media, understand that any and all information posted can be used to hurt your case. Be cautious about posts indicating your level of physical activity or exercise. Be cautious about your connections on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Understand that any and all posting, private or public, has the potential to be viewed by a judge, defense attorney or jury. We would encourage all injured persons to discontinue use of all social media sites, when involved in a personal injury case.