East Meadow, NY (PressExposure) May 09, 2011 -- Long Island personal injury lawyer Neal Goldstein is warning clients that private and personal social media postings are being used more and more in the courtroom as defense attorneys scour through the pages of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter to find evidence against plaintiffs' claims of injuries, pain and suffering. Recently, a New York judge ruled to allow even postings that are password-protected or marked to only share with selected "friends."
"What's so important for everyone to realize," said Goldstein, "is that every picture, comment and joke that you post anywhere on the Internet can now be used and possibly taken out of context in court. So if you are involved in a lawsuit, post infrequently and with extreme caution. A picture of you smiling on vacation might seem to prove that you are able to travel and not in too much pain. A joke about running the marathon or an old family photo only recently posted of you working out might seem to demonstrate your injuries are not serious. A picture of you at your desk might show you are able to work."
This past September, plaintiff Kathleen Romano was ordered by a judge to open up her private Facebook and MySpace postings to a chair company she was suing in a personal injury case. In that case, Romano had claimed she was so severely injured when her chair collapsed that she was limited in her activities and that the accident had damaged her "enjoyment of life." However, her Facebook and MySpace pages seemed to contradict these claims with evidence that she had traveled to Florida and Pennsylvania, and with a picture that showed her smiling happily away from her home despite her claim that she was largely confined to her house and bed.
"Clients must realize that defense attorneys and insurance companies will go to great lengths to disprove a plaintiff's case," said Goldstein "and anything they discuss online that they think may be private-whether it is in a forum, social networking site, a private page posting, or anywhere else on the Internet-can be found and used against them in court. Use extreme caution, and when in doubt, consult your attorney. It seems the old saying, anything you say can be used against you, should be updated to anything you post can be used against you."