Certainly most clients these days use emails, send texts use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or participate on other social networking sites. Informing clients about the problems that may cause them is something we have been doing for a long time.
If you are an injury client of any injury lawyer, you need to be aware that you cannot expect any information you share on the internet in any format to remain private.
We do not tell you this to scare you, but so that you know what to expect in your injury case.
Information posted on the internet can be used in an injury case for many reasons, including background checks, investigations, and as evidence in court. It can be used by insurance companies and defense attorneys to try to hurt your case by showing that your testimony contradicts something you said on Facebook, to try to show that your injuries did not happen, or just to make you look bad.
If your lawyer files a lawsuit for you, the other side is likely entitled to get all information you posted on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, dating websites, blogs, listservs, and other websites. They may also get information communicated by emails, voicemails, and text messages, and information on a work computer if you use it for personal reasons. Even if your profiles are set as “private,” you may be required to give access to them. And, don’t forget, even deleted information is recoverable. With the click of a button now, you can download an archive of everything you have ever done on Facebook.
This does not mean that you have to stop using the internet. But it does mean that you should exercise discretion with what you communicate through emails, text messages, social networking sites, and other electronic means. You should know what sites you use and what is on those sites, and it is important that you communicate that knowledge to us when we ask for it.
10 Rules For Social Media to Protect your Injury Claim:
- Do not post or communicate anything that your lawyer tells you or you tell them, including documents you exchange with the lawyer. This rule applies to all forms of communication. Telling others what you have discussed can destroy the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship.
- Do not post or otherwise communicate anything on the internet that could be harmful to your case or that you would be embarrassed or surprised for a room full of strangers in court to see, even if you think you are posting anonymously.
- Do not become friends with anyone on Facebook or other sites who you do not know.
- Use discretion when posting photographs or videos of yourself and allowing others to “tag” you. Ask yourself, would I want a room full of strangers to see this? If they do see it, can I explain it?
- Do not send emails, messages, or texts about your case to anyone other than your lawyer’s office.
- Do not post information or photographs that may expose you to criminal liability.
- Do set your profiles to “private.” This may help to protect some of your information.
- Do not delete your accounts or any information now on them. This information is still retrievable even if you delete it. Deleting information may also be viewed as destroying evidence and is illegal.
- Do remember courts generally view relevance very broadly and may find that a lot of your social networking information is potentially relevant to your claims and injuries.
- Do not post any sexual content online or send sexual messages to anyone, whatsoever.
For some people limiting and internet access is annoying and may seem like an invasion of privacy, but unfortunately, litigation can be an invasive process. Following these basic rules, which we have borrowed and modified from our fellow lawyer Andy Chasan, can protect you from an unfair invasion of privacy during litigation.