The world’s affinity for social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter, may now be used against them in the court of law.
In today’s society, it is not unusual for a person to be in an accident and before they contact the police or a family member, to post what took place as a status update on Facebook, or tweeting about it on Twitter.
Many times people may say one thing after an accident to the police, but then turn around and post their true feelings on Twitter and Facebook for their friends to see and comment on. This is what the court is after, the truth.
For example, posting an “I was in an accident, but I’m totally fine” message when they file a personal injury lawsuit is something the defense — and the court — are looking for.
In personal injury cases, defense attorneys are beginning to turn to Facebook and Twitter more often to expose lies and exaggerations. A person may show up to court in a back brace and a neck brace claiming to be suffering physical and mental pain and stress after an accident. But the week or month before, they were taking pictures at a club and tweeting about how much they were dancing and enjoying the night.
Once the defense attorney shows the photos and the tweets to the judge and the jury, all credibility for the plaintiff will be lost, along with their case.
The good news for fans of social networking is that normally they will be protected by the Stored Communications Act. Unless there is a warrant issued, the accounts of an individual are their private property. A subpoena alone is not enough to force them to share their information.
However, if a person does not have their privacy settings turned on for their social networking accounts, then those accounts are fair game to be used in court. More frequently, attorneys are turning to this method in an attempt to undercover false claims.
If you have been injured in an accident, and have filed a personal injury lawsuit, there a few rules that Facebook users should adhere to:
- If you are getting friend requests from random people who you have no mutual friends with, do not add them. They could be working for the defense.
- Be very selective of the photos and videos that you are tagged in.
- If you were in an accident or suffered an injury, do not post all the pictures of the accident.
- If you are going to trial, do not post comments about your thoughts on how it is going, whether you’re angry or pleased with the progress.
- Be sure to turn on your privacy settings to only allow friends to see your status updates and photos.
The Internet is a great tool and resource for society to use, but its ease of use in posting messages of all kinds, it can come back to bite you in the end.