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Who Can Read Your Social Media Posts?

Burdine & Brown Oct. 13, 2023

Let’s start with chat communicating with your lawyer. That is privileged and will always be so. If you are communicating with my paralegal staff, that too, is privileged communication.

But you decide to send those communication to your spouse, your friends in church or your best friend and neighbor by text, email, or other social media platforms. Boom! The privilege is gone, wiped out. And now it is discoverable by the insurance lawyer and his office in your workers’ compensation or automobile accident claim I am handling for you.

So, please listen to me and stop texting, emailing friends, etc. about your injury, your case status, etc.

Remember, you cannot delete what you already posted in cyber space. What has already been published is open to any insurance company’s “prying eyes”. But if you stop this activity, then they can get nothing else from your online posting.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure REQUIRE the preservation of any items that may be evidence in a case and the courts can impose severe penalties for items you have deleted or destroyed.

I had an insurance lawyer, during a settlement mediation, show me a post of a young lady client bragging she was dancing at a night club a few days before the mediation. Do you think the value of her claim “crashed”? Oh yes, it did and rightfully so. If she could dance with abandon, then she could certainly perform work for her former employer.

I get it. Social media is where you can boast about all you do or would like to do. It drives your “friends” up the wall with jealousy. But if you have an open injury claim that I am handling for you, I will tell you right up front that the more you brag or exaggerate the truth on Social Media, most likely you will have to answer about what was the truth, your genuine condition as stated by you and to your doctor as to what you stated on social media.

I have a few DO NOT DO THIS for you to take to heart:

  • Don’t post anything.

  • Don’t delete anything already posted.

  • Make sure your settings are as private as they can be.

  • Do not accept friends’ requests if you do not know them personally.

  • Do not hide this social media information from me, your lawyer.

  • Remember, every time you post it is PERMANENT.

  • Photos can hurt you.

  • Do not join any groups because an insurance company could use the group to get access to your site.

Lawyers like to ask their paralegals to do the task of probing your internet site for easily accessible information about you. And they love doing this. Finding things are like gossip, ill-found but very valuable. It can destroy your case.

In the old days, this was not a problem. If you wanted to vent your feelings or just talk to your neighbor, you would pick up the phone and call. Today, if you really need to communicate in a very personal way, call someone, don’t use social media. This is such an easy way for insurance folks to pick up “free” data. And what will they do with it: try showing it to your treating doctor. I will bet your treating orthopedic surgeon would change his/her mind about your medical condition in a New York minute after seeing pictures of you gardening, raking, cleaning the gutters to your home, dancing at a party, riding a bike, etc.

No one will believe you after your social media has been hacked. And no judge will rule in your favor after seeing or reading of your many posts and your physical activities.