Normally when a lawsuit is underway clients are informed to not discuss details of the case with anyone but their lawyer. These days, face-to-face communication isn't the only kind that matters.
Over 75% of American adults use the Internet, and posting updates to friends and family about your ongoing medical malpractice case may seem normal. But in courtrooms, posts on social media are counted as real evidence and your seemingly innocent posts can turn your case against you.
Defense attorneys and investigators will want to look for any inconsistencies in your medical malpractice claims that can sway the case in their favor. Posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that seem normal and harmless can be used to make juries, insurance adjusters, and judges doubt the validity of your claims.
If a victim of malpractice claims to have suffered serious injury and posts pictures of a recent hike, outing to the park with their family, or anything that can be taken as physical activity, defense attorneys can use the images against the victim to reduce the injury claim. Even posts showing a victim out drinking with friends can be used to slander the victim's character and reduce claims.
Attorneys of clients with medical malpractice cases typically tell clients to make their social media profiles private and to stop posting on social media websites. It is important to not delete posts or social media accounts because doing so can be taken as the destruction of evidence. They also advise clients to not befriend anyone they do not know because defense attorneys can create fake profiles and add victims as friends to view their pictures.
It is important to note that even private profiles, where posts are only available to friends, are still considered public to the court. Some courts will grant subpoenas to defense attorneys to allow them access to private social media accounts.
Here are some simple rules to follow while you have a medical malpractice claim:
- Stop using social media: If you cannot completely stop, then minimize your use of social media accounts.
- Consider how each post will affect your case: Before posting on any social media websites, think about how it could be used against you.
- Change privacy settings: If you are not already set to private then change your settings. Still, know that with subpoenas defense attorneys will be able to access any active social media account, private or not.
- Talk to family and friends: Posts about your activities by family and friends can also be used against you. Talk to the people around you about not sharing information and pictures of you while you have a malpractice claim.
- Don't friend people you do not know: Defense attorneys may try to use fake accounts and add you as a friend. Don't give them access to your accounts.
Completely removing social media from your life can be difficult. By following these rules and using good judgment with posts, you can continue to safely use your social media accounts.