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. However, you may also find out the attorney working against your case can use your social media to their advantage as well. Caution must be exercised.
How do lawyers use social media to build cases?
From divorce proceedings to personal injury cases, you can safely assume lawyers and advocates 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 by an attorney or advocate. 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. Photos can also greatly impact appeals for social security disability benefits if the photo suggests that you should not qualify for disability benefits. Disability applicants can totally can totally destroy their cases by providing evidence that their disability claim is unwarranted via social media.
What kind of social media contact can lawyers use against my case?
- Photos and Videos
- Status updates
- 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.
If elements of your case are leaked by another party on social media it is useful to know how to get out ahead of the information. In situations like this, issuing a statement on social media may turn out to be more appropriate and can help your case and the appeals process.
Posting examples about how debilitating your personal injury is could actually help your social security disability lawyer to try and make sure that there’s no chance your claim is denied. Including information in your posts about how you haven’t been able to go to your job due to your injury could also lend itself to better chances of getting workers compensation.
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 social security disability attorney.
2. Claiming a company fired you illegally while insisting you are retired on social media. You can’t claim retirement benefits if you were fired so there’s no legal reason to lie about this. 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 or other medical condition resulting from 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 (1-866-779-7331) is always open!