“OMG I have to post this…”
Let’s talk about social media and your case. What kind of case did you say? Well, to be honest, social media influences quite a few legal areas, including several areas that I practice. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Personal Injury: The most drastic example I can remember was a trucking case. A tractor-trailer broadsided two men in Las Vegas. It was a bit hit. Guy #1 had a torn rotator cuff and other significant injuries. Guy #2 had a back injury that required surgery. In Plaintiff friendly Clark County, NV, they had liability on their side and big damages. I was in trouble. Their lawyer made seven-figure demands and was ready to go to trial if he couldn’t get it. A week before I met with them for a mediation to try and settle the case, I noticed Guy #1 and Guy #2 had Facebook accounts.
So I took a stroll down memory lane on their pages and, sure enough, on a day when both were treating with their doctor and claiming 9/10 pain levels, they were also visiting a local park and testing out a new zipline and the monkey bars. I showed their lawyer that video privately, and the look on his face was the look of someone who realized he was going to settle the case, and not for the seven figures he had hoped for. The Facebook posting cost these two guys nearly a million dollars!
Workers Compensation: Insurance companies love paying less than they should. Then again, who doesn’t? So when an insurance company sees you at the gym, playing softball, or holding your kids on your shoulders on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed when you claim you cannot work, you bet they’re going to dig their heels in.
Divorce: There’s a term that’s used a lot in politics, business, and other areas of life: “bad optics.” Even when there’s not necessarily something bad going on if it looks like there is, it can be just as damaging. So during a separation from a spouse or during a divorce case, if you’re posting on social media shots of you doing shots, or pictures of you with members of the opposite sex, or even pictures of you just having a great time, it’s going to be brought up by your ex. While this doesn’t necessarily hurt your case*, it inflames the other side and can make negotiation harder.
(*it can hurt your case….)
Criminal Law: Last but not least, social media showing you engaging in illegal activity is just a no-brainer, “don’t do it”, level 101 stuff. Though it’s not usually going to be the basis for a charge to be filed against you (i.e. if you’re underage drinking or smoking pot on camera), it could be used against you by a prosecutor as additional evidence to support a harsher charge or lengthier/more restrictive probation.