Last month, a judge was publicly admonished by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct because she posted comments on Facebook about a trial she was presiding over. Then, earlier this month, a Michigan prosecutor lost her job due to statements she posted on Facebook related to the looting in Baltimore. And for accident victims, Facebook is just as dangerous.
As soon as an accident victim makes a claim, a claims adjuster or a defense lawyer will likely try to find the person on Facebook to glean as much information as they can. And if your Facebook posts are not consistent with the allegations of your lawsuit, then they start doing a happy dance. Let me give you some examples of how Facebook can be used against an accident victim.
- You file a lawsuit for injuries sustained in a car accident. As part of your case, you claim you are unable to bowl on your bowling team because of the back injury you sustained in the wreck. After perusing Facebook, the defense lawyer finds a post-accident picture of you at the bowling alley. Now, you were not lying when you said you can not bowl because of the back injury caused by the accident. You were only at the bowling alley to support your team, keep score and socialize. But there you are, in full color, wearing a bowling shirt and the bowling lanes are clearly in the background. You can be sure the defense lawyer will try to use that photo to undermine your claim. And while you can offer your explanation, you are now on the defensive and a jury might not buy it.
- A carpet cleaning company comes to your home. You are sexually assaulted by the carpet cleaning company’s employee. You file suit for the assault and one component of your damages is emotional distress from the attack. After you file suit, the defense lawyer finds pictures on your Facebook page showing you out with friends, smiling and laughing, enjoying drinks or a ballgame. Those photos might be used against you to try and demonstrate you are not suffering from emotional distress.
- As a result of a defective product, you sustain disfiguring injuries which have caused you emotional distress and isolation. In a case in California with similar allegations, the defense used Facebook “likes” and birthday wishes to argue the victim could not possibly be that isolated if she had so many friends “liking” her posts and wishing her a happy birthday.
So you now may be thinking that this could never happen to you because your Facebook page is private. Think again. More and more judges are requiring the disclosure of your Facebook password, which allows the other sides’ lawyers to have unfettered access to your account. Ultimately, when it comes to Facebook, you should follow the same advice I give our children: assume everyone in the world will see it and that it will exist forever regardless of whether you delete it.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and would like to discuss your case with one of our award-winning attorneys, simply give us a call at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free). Or, if you prefer, you can contact us online. We will provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation in which we will review your case, answer your questions and advise you of your legal rights. We handle all accident cases on a contingency basis which means we only get paid if we recover money for you. For more information on how we handle fees and expenses, click here.