Why should I stay off Facebook and other social media outlets when I am involved in a lawsuit or personal injury case? Social media has become a staple of our everyday lives. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets have transformed the way we communicate with friends, family, and colleagues. Many of us use these platforms to post opinions, brag about our accomplishments and to vent about heavy traffic or a crisis in our life.
This means that Social Media is public information and can be used against you. Attorneys use social media as evidence. They look for pictures and posts that could potentially disprove your claim. Your posts are still discoverable even if your profile is private when the posts potentially are relevant to your case. The court may determine that your public posts may lead to admissible evidence and your privacy interests do not outweigh discovery requests. They will not make you produce your entire profile, but only what they think is relevant information. Defense attorneys wish to prove that the injured party, physically, emotionally, or financially, is exaggerating their injuries. Even posting about your emotions can discount your claim tremendously. Say, you are suing someone for your pain and suffering because you are depressed, yet you post pictures of yourself smiling and you have quoted “Life is Good” attached to the photo. If and when the defense attorneys get a hold of the posts your pain and suffering claim may not hold up in court.
Most people only post about the good times on social media, rarely about the hardships and misfortune. Insurance companies are allowed to follow you and gather surveillance as evidence. Social Media makes it easier on them because it is one or two clicks and they found you. Before social media, insurance companies and attorneys had to hire investigators to follow people around to spy on them. Social media makes this entirely a whole lot easier.
This is why most attorneys encourage their clients to limit or ultimately halt all social media posts. This may be inconvenient, at the time, but to keep your case strong it will prove beneficial. Once your case comes to a close you can resume use of your social media networks. If you have posted content related to your claim remember it is too late. You must not tamper with evidence. Deactivating or deleting your account would be considered spoliation of evidence (destroying of evidence) and that will affect your case exponentially. Ultimately the best practice would be to stay off social media until your case has come to a close.