The consequences of using social media probably aren’t something you think much about. Social media use is ubiquitous, with the Pew Research Center reporting that about seven in 10 Americans use it to connect with others. In fact, it’s likely that you use multiple social media platforms on a regular basis, including popular sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
But if you’re filing a lawsuit (or you have had a lawsuit filed against you), your use of social media is something you should indeed consider. Social media can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, and here are some of the ways this can happen:
Social Media Serves as a Type of Evidence
The first thing that you should understand is that anything you post on the internet is public information, and therefore can be accessed by whomever, including the attorney for the other side. This means that pictures, updates, blogs, and the like can all be admitted to the court record as evidence. And don’t be quick to assume that your private messages are all the private, either – if the other party involved in the messages turns them over, those messages are fair game. What’s more, a lawyer could obtain a subpoena for cellphone and online records, including texts, private messages, and more. In today’s digital world, using various forms of online and digital evidence in a lawsuit is very common.
Social Media Can Undermine Your Claim
The next thing that you should know is that social media can undermine your claim. Even if what you’re posting to social media seems insignificant and innocuous, it may not be. Here are some examples of how social media posts can devalue your personal injury claim:
- You claim to have broken your leg in the accident, but a recent picture posted of you on social media shows you at the golf course. Never mind the fact that, in reality, you were only on the golf course that day as a tag-along, riding in the cart to keep a friend company, or the fact that the photo shows you in the cart, but your legs aren’t visible (and if they were, you could surely see your cast). The other side submits this as evidence to the court that you must have been lying about your broken leg; otherwise, how would you have been able to spend the day at the course?
- You are demanding damages for pain and suffering, claiming that the accident has left you with a disability that has altered your quality of life. On Facebook, a colleague posts publicly, asking how you’re doing. Out of politeness and to protect your privacy – you don’t want to be moaning and groaning about how miserable you are to your online contacts – you reply that you are doing well and that your recovery is coming along. The attorney for the defense snatches this up, using it as evidence to show that despite your demand for claim that you are in great pain a lot of the time, your social media profile indicates that you are doing just fine.
There are countless other examples like this. Posting pictures, even from the past, allowing yourself to be tagged in pictures that others post of you, checking into different locations, or talking about your accident or your injuries online can all be damaging to your claim if this information gets into the wrong hands.
Best Practices for Social Media Use When Pursuing a Lawsuit
If you’re involved in a lawsuit, it’s best to put your social media activity on hold. If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to cease use of your accounts, at the very least you should set your accounts to private, refrain from accepting friend requests from anyone you don’t know, and never talk about your accident or injuries online.
Call Our Lawyers Today for More Information and Legal Guidance
Social media use may be the way that people stay connected in 2019, but it can be disastrous in a lawsuit. If you have questions about pursuing a personal injury claim or another lawsuit type, are worried about online evidence being used against you, or are in need of a highly-qualified lawyer for representation, please reach out to the Alsobrook Law Group online or by phone at (334) 737-3718. We offer free consultations and always accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.