The Number One Rule When It Comes to Social Media And Personal Injury When it Comes To Lawsuits:
Assume anything you type anywhere, on any social media platform, will one day be posted in a courtroom in front of a jury for it to read.
Social media and your personal injury case don’t seem like they would be too interconnected. But electronic communication and social networking tools like e-mails, texts, Facebook posts, Tweets, and Instagrams are an integral part of modern life. You need to be sure in all instances that these modern communication tools are not used against you in your legal claim
When you bring a personal injury lawsuit, and to a degree when you just assert a claim, the information you share is not private. It can become very public. You need to be aware of this and be careful with what you say and post. This is why it is relevant to think about electronic communications, social media and personal injury.
Modern Electronic Communications Are Used As Evidence in Litigation
Messages posts and tweets can be used in your case for lots of reasons: background checks, investigations, and court evidence. For example, the lawyer for the other side can try to hurt your case by showing that your testimony contradicts something you said on Facebook. He might try to show your injuries did not happen, or you are doing things you claim not to be able to do, or simply use something that can be embarrassing in a courtroom to make you look bad. Your lawyers might try to fight it, but you need to assume the other lawyer will see it
The other side is may well be entitled to access any information posted online. It does not matter that you set your profile to “private.” So if you use Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, dating websites, a blog, listservs, or simply comment on other websites, everything you have posted might be available to the other side. Similarly, emails, voicemails, and text messages, could all be made available. And don’t think that if you just delete it the information is not available. The Court can force things to be retrieved and provided to the other attorneys
So be discreet with what you communicate through emails, text messages, social networking sites, and other electronic means. Social media and personal injury don’t seem connected but they can be. You should know what sites you use and what is on those sites. It is important that you communicate that knowledge to us when your lawyer asks for it.
Six Tips About Social Media and Personal Injury Cases:
- Keep Your Attorney Client Communications Confidential. Do not post or communicate anything that your lawyer tells you or you tell your lawyer. Keep documents you exchanged with your lawyer private. The one thing the other side does not have the right to look at are communications between you and your lawyer about the case. Telling others what we have discussed can destroy the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship.
- Think Before You Post. Do not post or otherwise communicate anything on the internet that could be harmful to your case or that you would be embarrassed or surprised for a room full of strangers in court to see, even if you think you are posting anonymously. Use discretion when posting photographs or videos of yourself and allowing others to “tag” you. Ask yourself, would I want a room full of strangers to see this? If they do see it, can I explain it? Do I want to have to explain it? Certainly do not post information or photographs that shows illegal activity
- Maintain Your Privacy. Do not become friends with anyone on Facebook or other sites who you do not know. Set your profiles to “private.” This at least protects you from some unknown snooping.
- Limit your Case Communication. Do not send emails, messages, or texts about your case to anyone other than your lawyer’s office.
- Don’t Destroy Evidence. Once you know you might be headed towards a lawsuit, do not delete your accounts or any information on them. It is improper and destroying something that was not important might be viewed as destroying evidence (spoliation). That can cause you to lose your case. Courts generally allow the other side to explore all sorts of things about you and may well find that a lot of your social networking information is potentially relevant to your claims and injuries.
- Stay Away From Sexual Content. Do not post any sexual content online or send sexual messages to anyone, whatsoever. It can be requested by the other side, and may have to be turned over.
Make Yourself and Your Lawyer Happy
Changing your online behavior by self- limiting and monitoring your social media use is one of the costs of pursuing a litigation claim. Litigation can be an invasive process. We promise, your lawyer will be much happier and you will help your case by following this advice.
Give us a call or send us a message if you have any questions. The number is 209-343-7510
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