Your Lawsuit and Social Media
Social media is such a normal part of our lives that we often post our daily activities without thinking twice. From sharing pictures of our meals, vacations, families and friends to updating our statuses with check-ins and personal tidbits, we seem to be a society obsessed with documenting every moment of every day.
Sharing this information with your followers may seem innocent, but if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, even the most “harmless” information can potentially damage your claim.
For instance, imagine you were injured in a car accident and you’re suing for compensation. A few days after the accident, you attend a friend’s birthday party and are tagged on Facebook in some party photos. The defense attorneys for the insurance company find the photos and use them as evidence against you. They argue that if you’re at a party, then you must not really be hurt. They can show those photos in court, which can hurt your chances of being fairly compensated – or compensated at all – for your injuries.
What Should I Do/Not Do on Social Media?
- Avoid posting: It’s really simple – avoid posting pictures of yourself and your activities. Put your accounts on hold until your case is closed. The best way to ensure that you don’t post something the insurance company can use against you is to avoid using social media altogether.
- Don’t discuss the accident: If you absolutely must post on social media, don’t share details about the accident or your injuries. Even a small error in the way you phrase something or a timestamp on a photo can create problems. Don’t post pictures of the accident. Don’t share any details of the accident through messages. Don’t comment on the other party or the insurance company. The best advice is to discuss your lawsuit with only your attorney and no one else.
- Check your privacy settings: Make sure your accounts are set to “private” and not to “public.” Make sure that you have to approve any tagged posts or comments. You should also remove yourself from public Google search results on Facebook by unchecking the box under “Public Search Listing.”
- Ask your family and friends to be discreet: Sometimes our families and friends post pictures or “tag” us in events on social media. These posts can also be used by insurance companies and defense attorneys. Remind your family and friends that you’re in a lawsuit, and tell them you don’t want to be included in their social media.
- Don’t accept strange friend requests: As devious as it sounds, insurance company employees have sent requests to injured people to access their private pages. Avoid accepting requests from anyone you don’t know.
Are There Rules About Social Media In Court?
While there are very specific rules about what is admissible as evidence in court, the rules about social media are still evolving. While public posts and public pages are more than likely admissible, rules about private posts and private pages are different. Courts have ruled that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for the content on social media, even if it’s shared with a small, select group. While defense attorneys aren’t likely to get permission to search the entirety of your private social media accounts, they might be granted limited access if they can show how it will lead to admissible evidence.