Every time I first meet with any client, I always ask that client if he or she is on Facebook or other social media. Unsurprisingly, a large number of people are these days. Next, we have a long talk about the dangers of social media.
Of course, there are some obvious things you should not say. Obviously, even without reading this, you could probably guess that making your status update “After I get a big check from the insurance company, I’m quitting my job and moving to the beach #nomore9to5″ would be a terrible idea. The purpose of this post, though, is to discuss the possible effects of much more innocent uses of social media.
In explaining this issue to clients, the example I use is the park. Let’s say that you’re in a car wreck and injure your back and are have a bulging disc. Then, one day you decide to go the park and take pictures of your child on the monkey bars and post it on Facebook along with a caption “My little monkey loves the park.” Sounds innocent, right?
What I’m about to tell you seems second nature to me due to what I do for a living. However, based on the reaction that I get from my clients when I say this to them, I know that it comes as a surprise to many who have not yet considered this fact. My job as a personal injury lawyer is to make my clients look as good as possible. On the other hand, the insurance company will hire a lawyer to represent the other driver and THE JOB OF THAT INSURANCE LAWYER IS TO MAKE YOU LOOK AS BAD AS POSSIBLE. I put that part in bold just to make sure that you caught it, because that’s the part that clients often don’t realize.
So, what does this mean? It means that, even with an innocent post like the one described above about a trip to the park, the insurance defense lawyer can use that post to make you look bad. “You claim that you were in pain, Mr. Smith, but here’s a picture of you having fun at the park. Now I’ve taken my kid to the park before and I’m always having to run all around after him. You must not have been in that much pain if you could do that, were you?” No matter how you respond to that question, the seed has already been planted with the jury that you’re a liar. There have been examples all over the country with injured parties harming their cases due to posting about trips to the beach or about going to parties or a number of other activities. I choose to use the park as my example, though, because it shows just how even an extremely innocent activity can be turned into something to be used against you. While posting about other activities would certainly be worse for your case than going to the park, I believe that just about any post could harm your case.
My advice, then, is just to stay off social media until your case is over. What do you really have to gain by being on social media that is important enough to risk receiving the compensation that you’re entitled to under the law? Ten years ago, you were able to go to the park or eat dinner or go to a ballgame without posting a picture of it to the world. If something exciting happened, you called your friends and told them. Do that again, at least until your case is over.