How Posting on Social Media Can Hurt Your Case
Social media platforms are important social and business tools that help you stay connected with friends, family, and clients. While social media use has many benefits, it can also negatively impact a legal case, like a personal injury claim. Litigators understand that the social media profiles of those involved in a personal injury claim are valuable sources of information and evidence that can hold up in court.
If you’re concerned about social media hurting an upcoming case, contact experienced Appleton personal injury lawyer Brian Hodgkiss for advice on avoiding social media when filing a personal injury suit.
The Discovery Process
The opposing party may gain access to certain information through the discovery process. Discovery legislation entitles both parties to seek and receive relevant information on the case, such as social media content.
The court determines relevance, so you won’t have control over the information presented. You and your legal team can make the case that the requested information is privileged and irrelevant; however, the final decision is up to the court.
Never assume that your legal opposition is unaware of or unable to see social media content marked as private. Even deleted media is accessible, especially if they hire IT experts to dig up old content.
Speak openly to your attorney about the content you’re worried may influence the case, including deleted posts. If you have an ongoing lawsuit or expect one to occur, avoid posting any information online.
How Social Media Can Impact Your Case
Social media posts and online content make their way into Wisconsin courtrooms every day. Although their effectiveness varies from case to case, both parties in personal injury suits routinely use photos, videos, messages, location tags, and other digital data as evidence in settlement and trial cases. Personal posts containing this content and posts made by others can adversely affect the outcome of your personal injury case.
Personal posts are influential pieces of social media evidence since they come directly from the person involved in the case. These posts often reveal your physical condition, location, and opinions, which can work against you in a court case.
For example, if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit after an accident with a third party, you may seek compensation for medical bills and subsequent disability. Posting a photo of a hiking trip or sharing a gym selfie shows that you are capable of physical activity and acts as contradictory evidence. If the defendant gains access to this evidence, they can pose questions about the legitimacy of your claims and detract from your claims.
Posts by others
It may come as a surprise that social media posts made by others can influence your lawsuit. For example, an Instagram post of you happily dancing at a wedding can harm your claim of suffering from pain or emotional distress.
Multiple posts or videos of you bad-mouthing someone or making controversial statements may function as a character reference. The defendant can negatively frame the jury’s opinion of your personality and attempt to show you have malicious intent. This tactic can influence your verdict and cause you to lose out on maximum damages.
How to Use Social Media During an On-Going Case
If you have an upcoming or ongoing case, the safest approach is to avoid using social media entirely. Adjust your platform settings to prevent others from tagging you or linking your profile to various forms of content. If you must use social media, do not speak about your case and don’t disclose any information that could function as evidence against your claims.
While you may assume that deleting social media or erasing previous posts can help your case, it does not. Due to new-generation forensic recovery software, your social content is difficult to permanently delete and is likely accessible with the right tools.
If you knowingly delete social media posts that the defendant can use as evidence, it may raise a red flag with the jury, suggesting you are hiding relevant information.
Deleting potential evidence may also be considered spoilation. This action is a violation that refers to the destruction or withholding of crucial evidence which prejudices the case. In Wisconsin, even accidental spoilation can result in the dismissal of your case.
If you have an upcoming or ongoing case, avoid the following behavior on social media:
- Discussing any information about the case
- Describing or posting drug or alcohol use
- Posting information that may compromise evidence
- Posting contradictory statements or evidence regarding your case
- Publishing information that shows intent to commit a crime or premeditated actions
Seek Legal Support to Help Navigate Your Case
Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can help you smoothly navigate a personal injury case, ensuring you avoid legal traps regarding social media. Our qualified and experienced attorneys get to know you and your situation personally to provide the legal support you need.
We’ll fight on your behalf for a settlement or verdict you deserve. Our recent winnings include a $350,000 professional negligence settlement. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your case.