You may routinely post pictures of yourself on vacation, of that beautiful dish at your favorite restaurant, and lots of selfies with friends. You may not realize how much others can discover about you through your social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. If you happen to be the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit and you say that you are suffering from a debilitating injury that causes you constant pain, yet you continue to post smiling selfies of you and your friends as you go about town, the “other side” can use your photos offer against you.
What you post publicly on social media is fair game for the defense lawyers who are looking for evidence that contradict what you claim to be your injury and its impact in your life. One thing you should understand is that you should not have much expectation of privacy on your social media platforms eve at the highest security settings. When you take photographs with the camera on your smart phone and post them online, the photos have geo tags on them that reveal where and when they were taken.
A safe rule of thumb is that you should never post something on social media that you would not want to appear in the news media about you or your life.
Tips for smart use of social media when you are a plaintiff in an injury lawsuit
If you were a client of this law firm, we would advise you to shut down your use of any of your social media accounts for the duration of your case. If you cannot do that, however, then:
- Adjust your privacy settings on the social media accounts that you use the most. Before you post anything, ask yourself if this got out would it help or hinder your case. Err on the side of caution and don’t post it if you have any doubts.
- Do not befriend anyone you do not already know in real life. In truth, it may be better to not friend anyone new at all, and to remove anyone who may end up playing a role in your current case.
- Keep your communication with your attorney about your case and about your medical issues between you and your lawyer. You never know who is reading your posts, and in some cases, they may be admissible in court.
- Ask your friends and family not to tag you in photos or post anything about you. Well-intentioned friends who post TBT pictures, or who are trying to be supportive by bashing the other side, can cause more trouble than you think.
- Do not delete any posts from the past. Even if you now think they might be harmful to your case, as that could be considered tampering with evidence, which is against the law. Instead, show them to your attorney and explain what happened, so that you are prepared in case you are questioned.
Think back about all the incriminating information that people have shared with one another through email or other forms of online communication thinking that it was private. All it took was a hacker with some time on his or her hands and the contents of what everyone thought was private correspondence was made embarrassingly public. Speak with your attorney in person or over the phone about your case, stay away from social media, and follow your doctor’s orders if you are still recovering from the injury or illness that is the subject of the lawsuit.
Gainsberg Law offers comprehensive representation to clients throughout Illinois. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer, please call us at 312.548.9049, or fill out our contact form.