We’ve seen it happen in workers’ compensation claims and union grievances: a whole case is lost because of a Facebook post. This week it happened in a federal criminal case. The court threw out the appeal of one David Lewisbey, who argued that a photo on his Facebook page showing him surrounded by guns should not have been admitted as evidence against him in a gun-running case.
It wasn’t hearsay, said the court, because he had posted it himself. He couldn’t deny that, because it was posted from his smartphone. And when put together with calls and texts from that same phone, it was clearly relevant to the charges against him (and his defense that gun-collecting was just his hobby).
The lesson? Almost anything you post on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or other social media could be used against you in a legal case. Unlike a phone call or email, it’s not private—so it doesn’t take a warrant to get access. And in workers’ compensation cases, relaxed standards of evidence mean almost anything can be considered “relevant.” Like, say, a photo of you sipping champagne at a family wedding. Even if your injury doesn’t restrict you in the least from traveling or drinking, an insurance company lawyer might use this to argue that you seem to be having an awfully good time while off work.
That’s why at EE&A we advise our clients to take a break from social media if at all possible. Give us a call at (312) 226-2650 to learn more about how to safeguard your rights.