Social media is an important part of many people’s lives in today’s digital world. You may use several forms of social media daily, from Facebook, to Twitter, to Instagram. How you use these tools becomes particularly important if you are facing a lawsuit.
Keeping a few pointers in mind about your use of social media if you are suing someone or if someone is suing you can help you to avoid common pitfalls that may damage your case. Here is some information to consider as your lawsuit proceeds through the courts.
Risks of social media use in lawsuits
How you portray yourself on social media can have a negative impact on your lawsuit. The nature of social media is that users post significant amounts of personal information, from photographs to personal statements and opinions. While this may be harmless in the context of sharing between friends, it can become a tool used against you if you are in a court case.
An article in the American Bar Association’s Litigation Journal said that in lawsuits, social media users’ posts can be a valid and valuable source of “pre-litigation intelligence and fodder for cross-examination.” You certainly do not want to damage your case inadvertently, so you should be particularly careful about what you post online both prior to your lawsuit and during your lawsuit. You may also wish to carefully check your privacy settings to ensure that you are not making sensitive information publicly available.
Types of cases
While opposing attorneys may find ways to use your social media posts against you in virtually any type of lawsuit, there are some particularly relevant examples that can show how they may do so. One example is if you are involved in a personal injury case, resulting from an incident such as a motor vehicle accident or a dog bite.
In personal injury cases, compensation for your injuries is a paramount concern, and you must show specific documentation and proof of how your injuries have impacted your ability to work. If you are facing temporary or permanent disability, your lifestyle should obviously reflect this situation. However, if you post on social media some content that raises a suspicion that your injury is not as serious as you have indicated to the insurance company, that content could damage your case.
The best rule of thumb is to ask your attorney about how to proceed with regard to your social media accounts. If you do not have an attorney and someone is suing you, or if you have suffered a personal injury and have not consulted with a lawyer, then meeting with a qualified attorney may be your first step.