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Being Too Social Online Can Ruin Your Injury Case

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In personal injury case, the negligent person's insurance company will try to find information that will discredit you.

If you have been injured by someone's negligence and have made a claim or filed a lawsuit, you are being watched by insurance companies. They may (or may not) have someone follow you from your home to your office or to the grocery store or to your child's baseball game or to a concert or to the gym or golf course.

But, you can be certain that they will follow everything you do online. They want to find anything that they can use against you to ruin your claim.

Don't help them! If you are involved in litigation, everything you have posted online can be subpoenaed by the other side from the internet service providers. Here is a list of the kinds of things that can be very harmful:

  1. Pictures of you at bars or parties drinking alcohol, especially LOTS of pictures of you at bars or parties drinking alcohol.
  2. Pictures of you dancing or skiing or mud racing if your injury is inconsistent with such activities.
  3. Negative, snide, or nasty comments about the person who injured you.

Your online "friends" can get you in trouble, too, by tagging you in photos. Those same "friends" may end up being witnesses if they are in your pictures or you are in theirs.

So, what should you do?

  • Be more private; set privacy settings as restrictive as possible.
  • Be very careful about what information is posted.
  • Refrain from talking about your injury or case online.
  • Consider shutting down your sites until your litigation is concluded. (That does NOT mean to destroy the information. Destroying evidence can kill your case. Also, what you think has been destroyed can be retrieved, and you will be seen as trying to destroy evidence -- another way to kill your case.)
  • TELL YOUR LAWYER about all your social media sites and the information on each of them. Only then can she help protect you.

Disclosing online activity is fairly new to the law, and some lawyers still do not understand how to handle electronic discovery issues. Be sure you know the importance of electronic discovery and that your lawyer knows how to use it, how to defend against unreasonable requests to disclose it and how to protect you from hurting your case. A Virginia lawyer and his client were sanctioned for destroying a Facebook picture and then trying to cover up what they had done. Here are links to the trial court ruling and the Virginia Supreme Court decision.

Category: Injuries and Wrongful Death

Sandra Rohrstaff
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Virginia Child Injury and Elder Abuse Attorney

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