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Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Duffan, P.C.

MySpace, Facebook, and Other Social Utilities can Jeopordize Your Case

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With the new and improved internet social networking sites such as MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter etc., people are really putting themselves out there. Everyone who uses one of these sites knows that the main reason for creating an account is to "check people out". It might be your old friends or your old enemies, but these sites give us a peek into someone's life through that person's own words and photos.

When I was working as an insurance defense attorney, I often tried to check out the plaintiffs in cases that I was handling. First, I would Google them, then I would narrow it down to FaceBook and MySpace. Those sites are an incredible wealth of very personal information. Just think about it. People put their status for relationships on the sites. If I am a divorce attorney and my client's spouse is claiming to be single, but she has "in a relationship" on her site, then I am certainly going to look into that.

On the same token, if I am a personal injury defense lawyer and the plaintiff is claiming that she can't walk, I am going to love finding a video of her on
YouTube where she is dancing the night away or playing volleyball. Not to mention the fact that some videos/photographs are date stamped which will come in handy when the plaintiff says the video is two years old.

My message here is to victims. If you have been in an accident or have suffered some other type of injury then be very careful about how you portray yourself to the public. Certainly your case is not the only aspect of your life and you are entitled to continue enjoying other aspects. The problem is when you put yourself out there in a certain light and everyone can see it, including defense attorneys and insurance adjusters.

Of course, we all know that MySpace and Facebook are like any other site profile created by the individual - they may not be accurate and they may not be current. Take the time to consider how you would interpret the information on your profile if you were a defense lawyer looking for ways to weaken your case. Don't make their jobs any easier for them. Make them work hard to try and diminish your claim. Trust me, they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves and we don't need to be giving them anymore.


Richard N. Shapiro
Recognized as a Virginia Super Lawyer in Law & Politics Magazine (since '10)
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