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Social Media and Your Lawsuit
Whatever happens on Facebook stays on Facebook, right? Think again. It is important to understand the risk associated with social media and your lawsuit. Those seemingly innocent posts can seriously influence your case. Social media can even affect the jury members hearing the matter in court as some attorneys research it in considering prospective jurors.
What Constitutes Social Media?
Social media is a broad term used to describe an assortment of networking options available on computers, tablets, and smart phones. According to recent media reports, today’s most popular providers are Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Each of these platforms offers a specific appeal, although a few may overlap in usage. They have one commonality; they reveal personal information. This may be done with just a few words or pictures.
The insurance company may have a couple of questions concerning your case. The adjuster could wonder if the accident occurred as you described. There may doubt concerning the degree that the incident has disabled you. Surveillance is a very real part of lawsuits that involve claims for personal injury. What better place to start than a person’s own social media posts?
There are many tales of individuals whose social media posts have injured their lawsuits. Photographic evidence often offers the most damaging insight. Consider the case of the individual broadly smiling as the camera finds him on a water skiing adventure. It might serve to discount his claims of severe back pain. The reality that the picture existed before the accident would be subject to proof.
Before you protest that this sounds like an invasion of your privacy, consider your statement and the fact that you are the one making information public on social media. The purpose of your lawsuit is to seek compensation for injuries caused by some other party. Social media may help determine the validity of your lawsuit.
The courts have made interesting rulings considering social media. In 2008, the US District Court of New Jersey considered whether an insurance company was entitled to access the plaintiff’s social media sites. In that case, Beye v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.J, the judge ruled that there is a “lowered expectation of privacy where the person asserting a right to privacy is the same person who made the information public in the first place.”
Check your settings on all of your social media accounts and set up strict privacy restrictions. Notwithstanding, be mindful of your posts. Even your closest allies may accidentally reveal information that could be wrongfully interpreted. Make sure your attorney is aware of all of your social media accounts. Use common sense in your posts and make sure you cannot be arbitrarily “tagged” by others.
At Beninato & Matrafajlo, we are aware of the consequences that social media may have on your lawsuit. If you any questions regarding your claim, we would be happy to meet with you.