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How Social Media Can Hurt Your Case

Social media is one of the most revolutionary advancements seen by technology in the last decade.  When used correctly, it can be a platform for developing relationships, networking with peers and communicating with friends and family from afar.  From cat memes to blooper reels to live feeds of political gatherings, social media connects, shares and stores information like no platform before it.  When it comes to your legal case, however, those same benefits could prove costly to your ability to protect and enforce your rights.

Loose Lips…

If you’ve been in an accident, suffered an injury or are otherwise involved in a claim as a plaintiff or defendant, details shared on social media can potentially undermine your version of the facts.  Written descriptions of events and photos that distort or misrepresent the scene of the underlying event can potentially be uncovered by the opposing side and used to weaken your position.  A picture of you smiling days after an accident that left you severely injured could be misinterpreted by a judge or jury as proof that your injuries weren’t as severe.  Lawyers see a variety of fact patterns when it comes to evidence uncovered via social media often advise clients to avoid posting, sharing or making public statements until their legal case is resolved.

Pattern of Conduct

Your social media present isn’t the only thing that could hurt your legal claim or case.  Pictures or written evidence of your prior acts may also potentially be used against you in a legal proceeding.  Pictures that could be interpreted as risky or reckless behavior may not tell the story of the present incident, but could potentially be used to undermine your version of events in cases of conflicting statements.  Drugs, alcohol, bragging about speeding and more can all create an inaccurate appearance that perhaps your behavior contributed to the events more substantially than your claim states.

Armchair Legal Advice

Another potential pitfall of social media is the ability of everyone and their mother that never received a legal education, to make you doubt your current legal representation or maybe second guess your need for legal action or a lawyer like a personal injury or auto accident lawyer Atlanta GA trusts in the first place.  The ability to research and gather opinions can be helpful when seeking recipe tips or skin care advice for acne, but even then, you wouldn’t trust your sister who can barely boil water to advise you in the art of making a French macaron.  When it comes to legal advice, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.  If you’ve already retained a lawyer, they should already be keeping you informed and up to date on both your legal action’s status and the applicable laws, which is way better than a Facebook opinion poll.

The Bottom Line – Use with Care

In summary, when using social media while you have a legal claim or case pending, exercise caution in what you say or share.  You may want to consider deactivating your account or adjusting privacy settings to allow only close friends to see the information you post.  Be cautious of accepting friend requests from people you don’t know and use the opportunity to carefully review your existing friends list to ensure there are no strangers that may share your private information.  This may seem like overkill at the outset, but, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to something as important as protecting yours and your family’s rights.

Butler TobinThanks to our friends and contributors from Butler Tobin for their insight into how social media can hurt your case.

About the Author

Steve Harrelson
Steve Harrelson

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