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Social Networking Sites and Your Lawsuit-A Word of Caution

An attorney that I know here in Michigan has cautioned fellow attorneys to advise their clients that defense attorneys are perusing social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Craigslist or Linked In, to “check up” on personal injury victims and see if they are leading social lives that are consistent with their injuries and their testimony about how those injuries effect their day-to-day lives.

Immediately after receiving this advice, I came across an article in Law.com which indicates that prospective witnesses, jurors, experts, business partners, etc. are being “investigated” on social networking sites to determine their fitness for their particular role or function. The article is not related to the topic of “checking up on” personal injury victims, but I am writing this to make those in the plaintiff personal injury community aware of the use of these sites to investigate all types of people and issues on-line.

My advice: I you are a personal injury plaintiff, use caution when posting information about yourself and your activities on these types of sites. Ask your lawyer whether a particular post is appropriate for publication or whether you should take a break from doing any social networking for awhile. You might want to take down the site while the litigation is pending. If you are a witness in a lawsuit, be aware that your credibility is important to the person you are testifying for and anything you post on a social networking site that effects your credibility might be used against you and the person on whose behalf you plan to testify. This may have a substantial effect on that person’s case. If you are an attorney, remember, you are a professional and must act like one at all times. Attorneys might destroy their valuable reputations and, as an indirect consequence, negatively effect their clients’ cases, by posting unprofessional information on a social networking site.

The bottom line in all of this? Everyone should use caution whenever posting (or considering posting) personal information on a social networking site.

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