How many of you know that whatever you have written or your friends have
posted on facebook or myspace can be discovered by your opponent in a
lawsuit? Would you be embarrassed if some of your posts were viewed by
a Judge or Jury? What explanations would you provide for some of your
posts or pictures? Could your posts be used to make you look bad or be
taken out of context to make you look like you are exaggerating your injuries
or lying? If so, you need to re-think how you use social networking if
you are involved in a possible lawsuit.
Insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, and defense attorneys make
it common practice to run computer searches to obtain information about
your personal life, including accessing your social network without your
knowledge or permission. Even if you have security settings at the highest
level, after a lawsuit is filed, defense attorneys routinely ask the Judge
to order you to produce all social media posts, pictures, and account
passwords. If you don't want a post or photograph to be viewed by
a Judge or a Jury in your lawsuit, think twice before posting.
Defense attorneys use social media posts to claim or suggest that injured
people are exaggerating their injuries, are out-right liars, cheats or
frauds. This is a common tactic by the defense so why post things that
can be taken out of context and make you look bad? Even comments from
friends can potentially damage a case.
Sweetser Law Office recommends you consider the following when posting
to or receiving messages from facebook, twitter, google buzz, linkedin,
(a) Verify that all your settings are on PRIVATE (the highest setting possible)
and nothing is public.
(b) Only accept friend invitations if you are absolutely sure that you
know the person
(c) Do not post any photographs or video of yourself (or enable others
to “tag” you)
(d) Do not write or disclose anything about your personal life that you
would be embarrassed to have a defense attorney use against you in front
of a judge and jury
(e) Only send e-mails regarding your case to your attorneys
(f) Only send texts regarding your case to your attorneys
(g) Avoid entering insurance websites
(h) Discontinue participation in blogs, chat-rooms, or message boards
The most protective advice an attorney can give is to remove your account(s)
until the matter is resolved.
At Sweetser Law Office, we understand limiting online social networking
can be a great inconvenience, but as an attorney my job is to protect
your rights. Unfortunately the law has not kept pace with the capabilities
of modern technology and therefore, you should know what you believe to
be private is not, and can harm your case.
At Sweetser Law Office, we are not suggesting you be anything but truthful
in your lawsuit. Understanding how seemingly innocent social networking
can hurt your case, at least, allows you to know what can happen and how
to protect yourself.