If you’re involved in a personal injury case, this may be a great time to give social media a rest. Why? Because more and more lawyers are using social media against the plaintiff in the courtroom.
In recent years, personal injury cases are among the hardest hit. Take, for example, the woman who sued an office furniture company because she claimed their chair was faulty and caused her to be bedridden. After the defense lawyer found Facebook photos of her looking happy and healthy, the case was dismissed.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself during a trial, simply by knowing how an injury attorney can use social media against you:
- Blog entries – Blog entries are 100% searchable and can be used against you in a court case. If you have any posts that you feel could be incriminating, disable your blog right away.
- Facebook profile – With over 600 billion users worldwide, it seems everyone is using Facebook – including while doing research during a trial. If your privacy settings allow people other than your friends to search for you and browse through your content, change this immediately.
- Other social media profiles – But don’t stop at Facebook. Lawyers are getting creative and can also research your presence on other sites like MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and more.
- Screen name – If you tend to use the same screen name for chat, online message boards, and groups, it’ll be relatively easy for a lawyer to find you. Lawyers can also request information that will help identify you in these online forums.
- Computer access – Finally, if the police have a probable cause, they can search your personal computer for incriminating evidence. Without a probable cause, a court order or subpoena is required.
- Photos – When you’re involved in a trial, keep a careful watch on your Flickr, Picasa, and other online photo albums. Any public photos (even if you’re just smiling), can be used as evidence against you. The same goes for photos that are tagged or posted by others. If you find photos that could incriminate you, contact the owner right away to have them taken down.
Being involved in a court case is a stressful time for everyone – and can be made even more so with the presence of social media. Consider the above tips – implementing even just a few of them can help to protect yourself from further (or long-term) damages.