As a plaintiff, anything you say online can be used against you. With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels growing in popularity, and often becoming an outlet for consumers to relay updates about their life, it is important to know that you cannot discuss your personal injury case on social media. All it takes is a single share to destroy the potential for damages.
When you are in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit, it is likely that your attorney will tell you to avoid social media at all costs. That means no more updates, no posting photographs, and no activity whatsoever. This is because your attorney knows how the defense uses personal social media profiles against plaintiffs to reduce damages, or have the case dismissed.
How Do Defense Attorneys Use Social Media Against Plaintiffs?
Employers use social media to assess a potential job candidate. People use social media to examine potential dates. So, it should be no surprise that a defense attorney would use social media to assess the validity of a plaintiff’s statements in a personal injury case.
There are ways in which defense attorneys can use what you post against you, including:
- They Look at Your Social Media Profiles: First, an attorney will research your Facebook and other social media profiles. An attorney is only able to view as much information as you have posted to the public. If you have strict privacy settings, they may not be able to see much information at all.
- Monitor Screen Names and Online Activity: An attorney may also look for user names on forums, online chat services, and discussions to see what you are talking about online with other strangers.
- Blog Entries: If you have a personal blog, an attorney will examine your personal blog and use whatever they can as evidence.
- Consent to Examine Social Media: You may be asked by the defense to sign a consent form that allows the attorney to examine your social media accounts. Then, they can get the information from the social media site directly.
- Accessing Personal Computers: The defense cannot access your personal computer without a court order, but that does not mean that they will not attempt to get a court order to do so.
What You Should Do During Your Case
As the plaintiff, you are the center of scrutiny by the defense, and even the jury. To help yourself, there are things you can do:
- Stop blogging if you have one.
- Suspend all social media accounts.
- Check your privacy settings on social media and make sure that only friends can see your information.
- Monitor photos on your profiles as well as those that you are tagged in. Tell friends and family to not tag you in old photos that can be misconstrued for recent activities.
- Monitor comments on your social media accounts.
- Be extremely cautious when updating your social media accounts – never speak about your pending case.
- Always think about who you are sharing information with and who they may share it with before posting anything.
What You Should Not Do During Your case
Equally, there are things that you should never do while going through a personal injury claim. This includes:
- Never discussing your case with anyone online, including friends and family.
- Not posting updates that can be misconstrued as guilt in your case.
- Not uploading photos of you engaging in activities, even if they were prior to the injury. These photos can be downloaded and used against you in court.
- Not adding new friends to your social media accounts and ignoring any new friend requests until after the trial. Lawyers and investigators may make fake profiles to gain access to your profile.
Speak with Your Personal Injury Attorney
A good attorney is one who will tell you how to act during your trial. Whether it is in-person or on social media, you can trust that the team at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC will be there to ensure you do not accidentally harm your case.