Social Media During Litigation

Facebook (and other social networking sites) Rules During Litigation

Recently, one of the more insidious tactics of insurance companies and insurance defense lawyers is to gain access to an injured person's social networking sites. Sometimes they do so involuntarily using trickery. Other times once litigation commences they do so by convincing the Judge to order access to the sites. Below is a recent formal written request I received by an insurance defense lawyer, my injured client was required by the law to respond to under oath:

Provide copies of all documents and records of any sort regarding any "Facebook.com", "Myspace.com", "Twitter.com", "LinkedIn.com", "Tagged.com", "Classmates.com", "Reunion.com", "Friendster.com", etc.) or any social networking page in which you have belonged or contributed, or any web logs ("blogs") you have maintained, beginning two years before the subject accident up to the present.

Once insurance companies/defense lawyers gain the information on any social networking sites, they take statements or photos entirely out of context to make it appear as if a client is not as injured as they claim, or injured at all. Of course, we have the ability to explain the full extent and nature of your injuries. Nevertheless, sometimes potential jurors are swayed by this tactic. Therefore, the following are a set of guidelines I give to every client at the appropriate time; your case will not be harmed by your use of any social networking site. Conversely, if you disregard these suggestions, you do so at your peril. The suggested guidelines you should follow until the conclusion of your case are as follows:

1. Never discuss your case in any fashion on any social networking sites. This includes the fact that you were involved in an accident, how the accident happened, who was involved, the extent of your injuries, and the impact the injuries has had upon you at home, work, and play, unless you talk to me first.

2. Never mention any activities that you are involved in. This includes ANY sporting activities, hunting fishing, vacations, employment, social activities, household activities, chores, etc., unless you talk to me first.

3. Never post a photograph on any social networking site from this point forward until your case is concluded, or you talk to me first.