A Word About Social Media……

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In today’s social media savvy world, people are often quick to send out a tweet, update their Facebook status, or post an item without thinking first.  I cringe when I read some of these posts. If you are going through litigation, of any kind, please heed this simple advice:

a) THINK BEFORE YOU POST: Before you hit the post button, think to yourself: if this post is printed out and introduced as evidence in my case, how does it reflect upon me? Does it show poor judgment? Does it show immaturity?  Will it be used against me in Court?  For example, posting about your recent adventures rock-climbing would not look good to a doctor or a judge if you are unable to work because of a wrist injury.  Co-workers who you previously ‘friended’ are now picking up the slack for you at work while you’re out on disability and seeing your Facebook posts.  Exes often are the main source of “fraud reporting.”  A phone call to the insurance carrier then triggers a private investigator checking you out.  Posting about late night out drinking would not be smart to discuss on-line if you have a psychiatric claim pending.  Similarly, posts of “Whoo-hoo! Just got my settlement check!” is a big green light to criminals looking for an easy target (or money-grubbing relatives).

b) DON’T DISCUSS YOUR LITIGATION OR BADMOUTH OTHERS: I find litigants sometime feel compelled to argue their case in the court of public opinion.  This is never a good idea. Private litigation should be kept private. You may feel a desire to find sympathy from your friends, but it is never wise to say bad things about anyone on the internet. It can end up in the Defense attorney’s hands and they will happily show it to the Court.  This also applies to message boards where you post identifying information or anything that could be traced back to you or your employer.  If it’s on the internet, it may as well be on a billboard.

c) WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T POST: If you really have to think to yourself, can this post be misinterpreted? Could this tweet or post be used against me? If so, then do not post it. It is that simple. Sharing funny or off-color posts or images may appear harmless to you, but may be misinterpreted by others. Fight the urge to check-in every time you go to dinner or out shopping.  Part of discovery in worker’s compensation is an automatic social media check. Finding photos of the applicant can be used in court, but it has to be done correctly. Don’t put your attorney in the position of having to defend your credibility because of a social media posting.

d) DON’T ‘FRIEND’ EVERYONE: I have had cases where a a co-worker gave copies of an applicant’s Facebook postings to the defense attorney because they had fallen out as friends, and her vacation photos became exhibit “A” in front of the judge.  Similarly, I had a doctor’s office refuse to continue treating an applicant – why? He failed to show up for his appointment, and after telling them it was due to a sick child, a staff member he had befriended on Facebook saw photos at Six Flags on the day they were waiting for him to show up for his appointment!  There are specific rules for when and how a third party can access and use your social media postings, but the old adage remains true: “Silence cannot be misquoted.”

e) CHECK YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS: It shocks me on a daily basis how people endlessly post about their children. their vacation plans, or where they are on a regular basis. You are telling the public your personal business.  If I were a claims investigator with access to your Facebook postings showing that every Saturday you attend a certain game, where do you think I’d send a private investigator to follow you?  Yep. Being in public means anyone can film you without your knowledge.  If you must feel the need to post about your daily routine, please check your privacy settings. Make sure you are not posting to the general public. Always remember, even if you delete a post, it will always remain on the internet if someone is diligent enough to look for it.