It only took one unfortunate occurrence for us to realize that we had to caution our clients about the impact social media can have on their cases. Defense attorneys had gone onto a client’s Facebook page and found some damaging photographs and comments that negatively impacted his case and which they used during our client’s deposition. Since then we have been very careful to discuss the use of social media with our new clients. This is what we advise our clients regarding the use of social media during the life of their case:
YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU TO NEGATIVELY IMPACT YOUR CASE. INSURANCE COMPANIES AND DEFENSE COUNSEL WILL SEARCH FOR YOU ON THE WEB. SO BE VERY CAREFUL AND READ ALL OF THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.
UNTIL YOUR CASE IS COMPLETELY RESOLVED:
- DO NOT accept future friend requests from any person you do not personally know. Insurance companies, their attorneys and private investigators who work for them may try to gain access to your social media web sites in order to obtain information that can be used to defeat or damage your case.
- YOU MUST tell your attorneys and support personnel at Crabtree, Carpenter & Connolly about your past or a current use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Caring Bridge, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or any other social media websites.
- Tell us the names of any and all social media websites, blogs, or other online media to which you regularly post or update.
- If you use Facebook, LinkedIn, Caring Bridge, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or any other social media, you should IMMEDIATELY reset your profiles to the highest possible privacy settings.
- DO NOT post anything about your claim, your case, or your injuries on any social media web site or blog.
- DO NOT post anything that you would not want a judge or juror in your case to see.
- DO NOT delete information about your case or your injuries that you already have posted as this can be discovered—but do not make any further similar postings.
- If you have posted something about your claim, your injuries, or the incident that caused your injuries, YOU MUST tell us about it at once.
In the future you must BE VERY CAREFUL not to place any information about your claim, your injuries, or your lawsuit on the web in any manner because that information is subject to being discovered, and the information might be used to damage your case.
Guy W. Crabtree is a partner with Crabtree, Carpenter & Connolly, PLLC, in Durham, NC.