How Social Media Can Undermine Your Lawsuit

Young woman using cell phone to send text message on social network at night. Closeup of hands with computer laptop in backgroundFacebook, Twitter and Instagram are integrated into the fabric of our daily lives. We routinely post pictures of our kids playing soccer, our travels abroad, and our wild birthday bashes. While it’s a natural inclination to want to share our lives with family and friends, social media puts private information out there for the world to see, and can seriously hinder your financial recovery in a personal injury or matrimonial case.

At the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we always caution about negative consequences of using social media during litigation. Why do we do this? To protect clients from themselves. This means do not publish information about your case or things that contradict the positions that you’re trying to take in court.

Social media posts can damage your credibility in court

Privacy settings aren’t enough to protect sensitive information, including pictures, video and emails, from being used against you in court. Keep in mind that insurance adjustors and defense counsel are always looking for evidence that can undermine your assertions, thus reducing your credibility. Photos can be taken out of context and used to prove the point that you aren’t nearly as injured as you have alleged. Whether you’re embroiled in a worker’s compensation claim and are supposed to be at home recovering, or suffered whiplash after a rear-end auto accident, think twice before you send out a Tweet celebrating your last round of golf, or fun fishing trip with friends.

“We have had people with bad backs posting pictures of themselves doing backflips at weddings; people jumping off cliffs when they claim they can’t walk; bungee jumpers claiming they’re afraid of heights. We’ve had married people placing ridiculous ads in public media or saying things that damage their custody case, sometimes proving that maybe they’re not such a smart parent,” says KGG fouding partner Paul Goldhamer.

Stay off Facebook, Twitter until your case resolves

You should assume that every Facebook status update, every Instagram image, every text message and video clip you post can and will be viewed by the defense. Just because you delete a wall posting doesn’t mean it’s gone from the Internet forever. You don’t want a judge or jury to misinterpret a family outing photo as proof that you’re not suffering pain, or that your quality of life has in no way been diminished by your accident.

The bottom line: Until your personal injury case is fully resolved, please use common sense and, as a general rule, keep some things absolutely private. If your lawyer tells you to stay off the topic on social media, stay off the topic. It’s for your own good.