SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES WARNING

The cartoon says:
"No confession necessary - There's plenty enough to convict you on your facebook page."

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES WARNING

If you are a member of a social networking site or account account such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, etc.,

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT WHATEVER YOU POST IS NOT PRIVATE AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO DISCOVERY BY THE DEFENDANTS IN ANY CLAIM OR LAW SUIT.

Internet and social media security and discretion should be important to you regardless of whether you are pursuing a legal remedy.

Please take caution as whatever you write or post, or have written or posted, can fall into the hands of the defendant, its insurance company, and its attorneys for the purpose of unfairly attacking the validity of your case.

It is now standard practice for defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys to obtain information social media sites.

Generally the information is obtained without your knowledge or permission.

If you have a social media site you should immediately verify that all your settings are on PRIVATE (the highest setting possible) and nothing is public.

Even with the highest privacy settings you should always write or post items with the assumption that it is open to the public.

We urge you to consider doing the following:

1. Apply the highest privacy settings.

2. Be very selective about who you "friend" or link with. Do not allow anyone to become a "friend" on an account unless you are absolutely sure you know that person.

3. Refrain from using social media sites as much as possible while any claim or case is pending.

4. Do not post anything about your case, do not answer questions about the facts or how you are feeling.

5. Do not post anything about meetings with your lawyers or staff members. This can result in a challenge to the attorney client privilege.

6. Be very discrete about any photos that you post: In our experience an injured client may "pose" for a picture that depicts participating in an activity that they are not actually participating.

It is very difficult to explain that the photo was "posed" and that the client was not actually participating in the activity.

Photographs showing physical activity inconsistent with your claims can be very damaging to your case. What seems perfectly harmless may be used against you.

Do not post photos that show drinking or other activities that the defendant, its insurance company or their attorneys may try to use to paint you in an unfavorable light to a jury.

Often injured folks have a good day and can do some activity on a good day... the picture of the person posted on the Internet doing the activity...doesn't show the jury they then after trying an activity (perhaps while on pain medications) were then up all night in pain or in bed for 3 days following that.

7. Think about what you post: We have found that have made post that do not actually reflect what they are doing, but rather what they believe sounds good.

This "posed" posting can be very damaging to your claim. Do not post anything about your social life that involves drinking or other activities that the defendant, its insurance company or their attorneys may try to use to paint you in an unfavorable light to a jury.

If you are making an injury claim a posting stating you are participating in a physical activity that is inconsistent with your claim can be result in irreparable harm to your effort to pursue legal a legal remedy for your injuries.

8. Do not send any e-mails regarding your case to anyone except your attorneys. There is no "unsend' button.

It is very important that you do not send e-mails to friends or family about your condition or activities. E-mails often contain emotional content that you may find difficult to explain or may be inconsistent with your recollection if you are deposed later in the case.

Additionally, the defense may attempt to subpoena the e-mails from your friends or family members. If it is absolutely necessary for you to communicate with a friend or family member keep the communications to what is essential and generally try to communicate verbally.

The people you communicate with could be subpoenaed to testify in a deposition or at trial about your communications.

9. Do not forward any e-mails from our office to anyone else. Forwarding our e-mails or sharing our communications of any kind can result in waiver of the attorney client privilege.

10. Do not enter insurance websites; participate in blogs, chat-rooms, or message boards.

We have seen an increase in electronic surveillance by the insurance companies, investigators, and defense attorneys for purposes of embarrassing and humiliating claimants, and for the purpose of claiming that your injury was exaggerated or even caused by anything other than the incident related to your case or claim.

Insurance companies have successfully used such information; even those considered innocent, harmless joking between private "Friends," to convince a judge and juries that plaintiffs have been dishonest.

You should assume that the defendant, its insurance company, and its attorneys look for social media entries that might paint an unflattering picture of you. Professional pages like LinkedIn.com may have information about earning capacity.

Be aware that the defendants, its insurance company and attorneys may be entitled to request all information contained within your home computers and laptop hard drives regarding the issues we discussed above.

The defendants, its insurance company and attorneys may also be entitled to subpoena information directly from service providers, without needing your permision or knowledge.

Internet and social media security consultants recommend that you review the contents of your social network sites and that you review your "friends" or "connections" and keep only those that you know and trust.

Always be aware of what you say or post, including photographs, in any format on your computer or internet.

Be careful out there!

Howard Spiva
Attorney