May 28, 2019

Potential Pitfalls of Social Media and Social Networking to Your Case

Social Media is a great modern technology, most of the time. It is relatively well known that future employers may have a look at social media profiles when conducting interviews to see who could be the best candidate and who further support the company’s positive reputation. However, many of our clients are surprised to know that social media posts and updates can play a huge role in the success of their cases and claims. All of our staff, even our medical malpractice lawyers, have used social media as a tool to build successful claims.

How do lawyers use social media to build cases?

From divorce proceedings to personal injury cases, you can safely assume legal teams will be looking at both side’s social media accounts.

Even the most innocent of pictures and posts can be misconstrued and twisted to fit a certain narrative. This is especially prevalent in divorce proceedings when it comes to setting alimony amounts or trying to prove extramarital affairs, and personal injury cases to prove lack of a specific injury. Pictures really are worth a thousand words and unfortunately do not show the background of the situation leading up to the snapshot.

What kind of social media contact can lawyers use against my case?

  • Photos and Videos
  • Status updates
  • Check-ins
  • Likes and tags

Stay Proactive, not reactive

If you are planning to file a claim or enter into some kind of lawful proceeding, start acting proactively when it comes to social media. Of course, the best option would be to eliminate social media and social networking use from your life leading up to and during your trail; it may not be possible.

Before clicking on “post” think if that status or picture could harm your case in the future. If there is even the smallest possibility, don’t post it. It is better to limit your social media posts and avoid negative effects rather than hoping that no one comes across it or going back to delete it after the fact.

3 Examples of how social media posts changed a case’s outcome

1. Posting pictures of vacations or checking into exotic locations after claiming a crash or instance of medical malpractice completely changed your life and left you severely injured.

This is an excellent example of how social media could create a sticky situation for you and your medical malpractice lawyer or car accident attorney.

2. Claiming a company fired you illegally while insisting you are retired on social media.

This is a common hurdle that social security benefits lawyers encounter when they are constructing a client’s case.

3. Participating in a charity obstacle course after claiming a back injury in a car accident.

3 Tips on how to use Social Media wisely

1. Strict privacy settings

Make sure your profile is completely blocked off to outside viewers and prying eyes. You never know who could be looking at your profile without your awareness, like the other side’s legal team. If your profile is entirely public, the other side will certainly take advantage. But keep in mind, depending on the case, they could reach out to your friends or other individuals related to the case to get insider information and work their way around the privacy wall. That is why it is best to keep a tight grip on what you are posting.

2. Keep it neutral, work, and family friendly

Although social media is a look into your life, you do not and should not share everything. Keep raunchy stories and gossip offline, so it cannot be used against you. Don’t post anything you would be embarrassed by if your boss, children, or parents happened to see it.

3. Don’t post anything while experiencing intense emotions

We all say things we don’t mean when we are angry but posting them on social media for all to see can be a bad idea. Even after deleting the information, it never really disappears.

4. Do not accept any friend requests from people you do not know

Social media can be a wonderful tool that brings people together, but it can also cause substantial damage to legal cases and proceedings when not used properly. If you have any questions about your social media use, or how specific posts could potentially affect your case, don’t hesitate to reach out to Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation. Our toll-free line 1-866-MICH LAW (1-866-642-4529) is always open!

Ms. Barry is studying Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. She has won multiple awards both for her persuasive and creative writing and has written extensively on the topics of medical malpractice law, personal and birth injury law, product liability law. When she’s not researching and writing about these topics, she edits a literary magazine and tutors students at Penn’s writing center.




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