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The Common Pitfalls of Social Media During a Lawsuit

Social media is the most common way people remain connected in this technological age. With people spread far and wide, it helps families and friends stay in touch from miles away. For all the good that social networking provides, it also has a downside: oversharing. Some people do not have boundaries when it comes to what they post online, and they end up revealing sensitive information. When there is a legal action, the opposing side may use what is posted on these social media pages as fodder to undermine the case. Find out what some of these social media pitfalls are, especially when a lawsuit is filed.


Believe it or not, the privacy settings on a social media account do not keep prying eyes from taking a peek. Every status update and comment posted may be used as evidence in a legal case. How is this so? When a person posts something, friends can see it. If one of those friends re-shares it or comments on it, it may now become visible to that friend’s followers. If a legal representative is friends with a friend, it may open the door wide to see every comment or update.


In a personal injury lawsuit, photographs become critical pieces of evidence. Insurance companies often hire private investigators to follow plaintiffs to gather photographic or video evidence of them engaged in a physical activity that their injuries should preclude them from doing. The reason for this surveillance is to prove that the plaintiff is not as injured as they claim. Posting personal photos to a social media account can do the same type of damage as those taken by an investigator. The plaintiff may not even post the pictures but might be tagged in another’s photo. If they show something is occurring differently than what the plaintiff should be doing, it may undermine the case.


When a plaintiff or someone they are with tags them in a status or picture, it may turn against them. A plaintiff that is supposed to stay home, go to the doctor, or be too financially stressed to do anything is found to be traveling or eating out, it may signal to the other side that there is some exaggeration. A friend’s post talking about activities involving the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit may be just as damaging, if not more so.

The best advice a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Patterson Bray, will give about social media during a lawsuit will probably involve abstaining for the duration. However, be mindful that anything posted before the suit may also come into play in a courtroom situation.

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