by Niergarth Injury Law, May 5, 2015
Think before you post about your social network about your auto or motorcycle accident or any other case for that matter.
There is a story circulating regarding the settlement of a discrimination case that was pulled back by the defendant as a result of the daughter’s “suck it” comment on Facebook as reported on CNN U.S. This is the world that we live in and a broadcast to your friends through social networking can have costly results.
I have not read the case or any of the pleadings or documents with regard to that particular issue. Instead of talking about that case I wanted to discuss some dos and don’ts of what you should not place in social media. A common part of discovery is defense counsel requesting copies of your social media page especially regarding auto accident cases.
First, there is no privacy in social networking as anything you post can and may come back at you long after it has been deleted. If I verbally discuss an issue with a friend what was said may never be mentioned or spoken of again as that conversation is saved only in our minds. In contrast a private message to your friend is no longer between you and that friend as it can be saved, printed, and used against you in any imaginable way. Even worse than that is having a conversation or argument on your social networking page that is viewable by everyone. Now we all have those friends that get into family arguments on Facebook and we all grimace because we cannot believe that are doing this publicly especially when the matter is so private.
Next, the first thing that we all do when something happens to us is post to our page. A typical scenario involves a person getting into a car accident; the pictures of the accident scene and brief self medical diagnosis accompanying the picture are up before the police or ambulance even arrives. What harm is this you ask. Well two days later that person’s neck starts to hurt and guess what, they didn’t say that their neck was hurting in their self medical exam that was posted. Now the defense attorney will argue that if their neck was injured in the auto or motorcycle accident why didn’t they complain about it in their post along with their low back and leg pain. Therefore, they must have injured their neck after the accident. I have actually heard an adjuster say those exact same words.
Another scenario that happens often is a simple status update that you planted some flowers today in your garden and think that they look beautiful. Now the defense attorney can argue that you are gardening and that if your back was really injured you would not be able to stay bent over for the time it takes to dig into the ground, plant the flowers, and mulch afterwards. What was not posted is that your neighbor came over and took the mulch out of the car for you or that you had to take a dozen breaks because your back was hurting. Almost anything can be turned into an argument. I am not saying that these are great arguments only that they are potential arguments.
Think before you post that next status update about how much you hate your ex or how much you are going to enjoy daddy’s settlement by taking a vacation to Europe. It could cost you!