Thoughtful social media use can be a tool for creating a specific image of a user, such as a responsible, involved individual who volunteers in their community. Just as easily, it can showcase negative behaviors that reflect poorly on the user. Controlling your social media presence is important. As with many things, preventative maintenance is better than repair, but if a case is anticipated or in process, it can be too late to erase the damage by deleting posts. So how do you handle your social media accounts when you are pending litigation?
Social Media as Evidence
In cases where social media posts are used as evidence, removing these posts can be seen as tampering with evidence. If the opposition were to claim spoliation of evidence, it could have a negative effect on your case. If you wish to take down posts, cautiously. It is best if your attorney takes control of preserving evidence and creates permanent records of all relevant posts and data. Keeping a record of the evidence can prevent a charge of spoliation of evidence. Your attorney should be aware of your local laws and conduct rules, since removing posts can be seen as alteration of evidence, even if the posts are preserved in another form. If you are unsure if deleting a post could cause harm to your case, consult your attorney.
Social Media in Personal Injury Cases
If you have been injured, your social media accounts could be used as evidence that your injuries are less serious than claimed. You should avoid posting or being tagged in:
- Pictures of activities, particularly activities that require some measure of ability
- Check-ins at bars, sporting events, parties, or other locations
- Posts sharing treatment information
Posts of this nature can damage your case if the defendant can show that you are still participating in activities and are not suffering.
Your social media can be monitored throughout the proceedings, and the opposing side may look for information to use in the case against you. Here are some tips to help you manage your social media presence:
- Set social media privacy to private or “friends only,” and enable tag approval so you can control what you are tagged in online.
- Refrain from posting until the case is resolved, particularly posts related to the case, your injury, your treatment, or check-ins to activities.
- Don’t post false or misleading information.
- Know that existing and future posts, comments, pictures, tags, and other activity can have legal ramifications.
Social media can be complicated, especially when legal proceedings are involved. You need to protect yourself, but you must not destroy evidence. It can be a fine line, but your attorney can advise you on what you are able to do to minimize the damage social media can have.
Do you need advice to manage your social media and protect yourself during your case? Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC can guide you through the process. Contact us today at (770) 629-9321 to begin a free consultation!