If you have been in an auto accident and have made a claim, chances are pretty good that the insurance companies and their investigators, claims adjusters, and lawyers have been looking at your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and/or My Space; and really anywhere else you've been online.
Questions about a person's online persona have become standard during examinations under oath (EUO), depositions and other phases of the discovery process. Not only do they ask about whether you are online, but whether you use a fake name and whether there are any photos of you online.
While my focus is personal injury (auto accidents and slip/trip and fall cases), other areas of law are subject to this kind of investigation as well: family law, criminal law, employment law, and probably every other area of law you can think up.
What you are posting can be used against you, here's how: A personal injury victim puts pictures of themselves up (doing anything) after an accident; the defense will argue that this proves the person wasn't injured; a DUI offender has photos of his/herself at a party or bar; a family law litigant has a photo of him/herself with the "other" woman/man. But it can be more subtle. Posts or photos that you never imagined could/would be used against you will be.
Making your account "private" or using a false name doens't help because that information can be discovered, courts are allowing this type of online information into evidence if it is relevant to the case. And how can you know if its relevant? The other side has to take a peek to see if they think it is.
So should you never be on these sites? Hmmmm, I would say that if you weren't on them then they couldn't be used against you. But with that said, I have a Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I happen to enjoy them. I use this test whenever I post anything: If I would be comfortable having a judge, jury, my mother, my husband's mother, my kids, my friends and neighbors, etc. seeing the post/picture? Would I be comfortable having the post/picture appear in the newspaper? Those are good questions to ask yourself before you post anything on line.
Finally, as we advise with anything: Tell the truth when you are online. But that doesn't mean tell the whole world about every aspect of your life online. Never post online about any pending claims, lawsuits or settlements; these are not topics for your facebook or twitter status updates!
Want to find me online? I'm "Fenderlaw" on Twitter and "Kathryn Fenderson Scott" on Facebook.
For more information or a free consultation on your legal issue contact Scott and Fenderson PLLC, your injury law and family law attorneys, at 727-321-0099. http://www.scottandfenderson.com