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If You Post It- They Will Win

We’ve all heard the warnings: “Don’t post that to Facebook, everyone can see it.” In this day of instant gratification of information, it is not uncommon for employers, clients, significant others, family, and friends to “stalk” others on social media. That picture of you with a lampshade on your head at Spring Break 2013? Your potential employer saw that and made a flash judgment of your character. All of those dog pictures on Instagram? Your friends assume you have no life outside of work and your dog. That tweet about snowboarding in the Alps? You just lost your injury claim.

With the evolution of technology, the law has had to catch up and attempt to outwit an evolving industry. From distracted driving laws, privacy laws in regards to drones, and even infringement laws it seems technology always has the upper hand. However, while the law and technology can butt heads, technology, specifically social media, can also help or hinder a personal injury claim.

When someone makes a personal injury claim, they are aiming to gain monetary compensation to make themselves “whole” again. As an accident is unforeseen and often causes physical and mental hardships for an extended period of time, part of the claim involves requesting compensation for medical bills. One of the ways the defense can undermine a claim is to prove that the plaintiff is not as badly injured as he or she said they were. Frequently tech-savvy defense lawyers will turn to popular social media sites to prove this.

How Not to Hinder your Case:

  1. Do not post anything about your accident or injuries, or subsequent activities to any social media sites. With a younger crop of lawyers entering the field, attorneys are getting smarter at super-sleuthing their clients as well as their opponents. In the event you do not know if a post is “appropriate” or not, we advise not to post it. Your best option is to deactivate your account, but not delete your account.
  2. Check your privacy settings. On many social media sites, there’s the option to make all posts private or public, and on many, the privacy settings are more advanced than that, giving you full control over who sees what. If you’ve been injured and wish to seek compensation, go through your privacy settings before hiring an attorney and make sure to heighten them.
  3. Tell your friends not to post anything about you, tag you, or mention you in any of their posts. Defense attorneys can go through your friend list and look at their profiles for any evidence that you are not as injured or anguished as you claim.
  4. Take off geotagging and check-in. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Foursquare can geotag your location when you log in or simply browse the applications. Defense attorneys can use this information against you and cross-reference to your location. Let’s say you were in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and you “check-in” through Foursquare. Anyone can take that location and run a search across all social media sites. A defense attorney might find out that during the time you were there, a special event was occurring, and might try to show that you are not as affected by the accident as you claim.
  5. Do not friend anyone you have not met in person. While in the state of Virginia, it is unethical for a defense attorney to communicate with you without informing you of who they are, no one has to tell you anything to “Friend,” “Follow,” or “Subscribe.”
  6. Google yourself. This is a practice everyone should become accustomed to. Chances are your own lawyer, and the defense lawyer has already googled your name to see what surfaces. If you do this first, you can attempt to take down anything you deem inappropriate, and you can forewarn your attorney about any social media/internet snags.

The advent of social media was supposed to be a positive way of keeping in touch and allowing our “friends” to see into our lives a little bit more. Now, our privacy has been thrown out the window, and anything you post in the privacy of your own home can and will be used against you. Protect yourself from falling into the trap of social media, where anything can be interpreted, and innocent posts can be skewed.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR INSTRUCTION. MERELY AN INFORMATIVE POST.

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