Overbey, Hawkins & Wright, PLLC
1.800.201.9987 (Toll-Free)

Social Media Can Sink Your Lawsuit

Sunday, January 28, 2018

With Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat ruling the digital world, posting about our “current situation” has become second nature to many, especially young adults.  Some share every detail of their lives, from their breakfast menu to health care concerns, without a second thought.  Doing so is not without risk, as it can subject a person to scams and other perils.  However, the risks are extremely high for a person who intends to pursue a lawsuit of any kind.  Good lawyers today mine social media for dirt on the opposing party.  For that reason, it is essential that you take steps to protect yourself.

Photos Can Mislead

Clients often say: “I have nothing to hide.  Why should I worry about what I post?”  The problem is that social media rarely reflect reality, and this fact can easily be exploited by insurance company attorneys.  Most people want to put their best foot forward on social media, posting pictures of themselves enjoying the good life far more frequently than photos showing life’s daily difficulties.  A person who is injured will probably not want to post pictures of themselves in pain; he or she will instead likely post a picture smiling after a nice meal out.  Perhaps the person is in constant pain, but managed a smile for the camera.  Of course, the picture is not absolute proof that the person is not actually suffering.  But for a jury, it may well create a false impression of a happiness that does not exist, which will likely result in less than full and fair compensation.

Details Can Be Exploited

In the old days (say 2003), defense attorneys had to go to great lengths to find out information about the plaintiff.  In addition to sending detailed discovery requests and taking lengthy depositions, they often had to rely on private investigators to learn useful information.  While those options are still available, defense attorneys frequently unearth their most valuable “secrets” from the plaintiff’s public social media postings.  Your hobbies, family, friends, work background are easily available.  While a social media presence has an essentially infallible memory, you do not, and a clever defense attorney can make it appear that you are intentionally lying by contrasting your testimony with details you have posted on social media.

Solutions

As soon as it becomes clear you will be pursuing an injury claim, you should immediately set all social media accounts to “private.”  At least until your claim is resolved, we recommend not posting new material on social media.  You should also be aware that harmful content, once posted, cannot be deleted or you risk a claim of spoliation of evidence.  For that reason, it is far better not to post such content in the first place.  Be sure to consult with your attorney to ensure your settings are truly private and to ensure all appropriate steps have been taken to protect your online presence from prying eyes.

Frank A. Wright, Jr., Esquire