Imagine you’ve won a settlement in a court case after a protracted and difficult legal battle. Naturally you’re going to want to share the good news with your friends on Facebook!
Not so fast.
Chances are your settlement agreement contains a clause prohibiting you from discussing the details publicly. If you violate that provision by spreading the word on social media, you risk forfeiting your settlement money.
In one instance, a Florida plaintiff won an age discrimination settlement from his former employer – but his daughter’s braggadocious tweet violated the agreement’s confidentiality provisions and cost him the entire $80,000 settlement. He kept the smaller amount of $10,000 owed in back wages, but his loose lips, and his daughter’s loose fingers, cost him bigtime.
This isn’t the only type of problem that social media can cause in court. Even what seems like the most innocent of posts can be used against you.
For instance, in a personal injury case, if you claim to be suffering from whiplash or some physical injury that is greatly affecting you, but then post about going to an amusement park, it could be used against you by savvy defense counsel in court – even if you did nothing but watch the babies in their strollers on the outing.
If you are allege that an incident has caused you emotional distress, but you constantly post happy or excited news, or even use happy “emojis,” a creative defense attorney could easily use this type of information to show that you are not being truthful about the true nature of your emotional well-being.
This complicates cases and may make settling your case more difficult.
Beware: A common mistake people make is believing that changing privacy settings will stop posts from being used in court. This is not always true. Facebook privacy settings are complicated. In addition, if you are “tagged” in a friend’s post, you will show up in their news feed.
If you have a case pending, you should discuss social media use with your attorney. Especially if your claim is for personal injury, your attorney will want you to limit your use of social media. If he or she has no idea what you’re talking about, get a new attorney. Many attorneys now have clients sign a “social media warning,” acknowledging that they have discussed these issues at the outset of representation. If you are asked to sign one of these, this isn’t a sign that you have met a slimy lawyer – it’s a sign that you have met a lawyer who is well-versed in current trends.
If you have a personal injury, employment law, or other case, Levine-Piro Law can help – and we will be sure to advise you on how best to navigate social media and protect yourself from your posts being used against you in court. Give us a call at 978-637-2048 or e-mail email@example.com to set up your consultation.