It’s no secret that social media and social networking presents a minefield for a person involved in a malpractice case. An attorney or client may feel like they have to walk on eggshells — anything they post could come back to bite them, endangering their chances of a favorable outcome. The following are some of the potential pitfalls of social media and social networking when it comes to a malpractice case. By following this guide, you’ll know what not to do, and how to get the outcome you are hoping for.
What is a malpractice case?
Medical malpractice cases are normally pretty straightforward. According to the Davis Klein Law Firm, a team of medical malpractice attorneys in Albuquerque, “When a doctor or other medical professional fails to perform her or his duties according to established standards in the medical field and someone gets hurt or dies as a result, a claim for medical malpractice may exist.” In simple English: If a doctor is careless and breaches their duty towards you, they may owe you damages. An overworked surgeon may leave a tool in a patient’s body after surgery, for example, or a negligent nurse may cause an overdose of a dangerous medication. In these cases, the medical provider should have been watching out for their patents, but their careless and negligence put the patient’s life at risk.
However, according, again, to David Klein, to meet the burden of proof the injured patient must have a medical expert testify to the original medical provider’s breach of conduct. This is where it gets tricky. While it may seem obvious to you that you have experienced a life-changing injury, the attorneys opposed to you will try to mitigate your experience, and thereby reduce the amount you may be entitled to.
How social media comes into play
If you are seeking claims from a debilitating knee injury from a botched ACL surgery, you probably shouldn’t be adding pics from the family’s annual ski trip to your Instagram story, even if you stay in the cabin the whole time. Furthermore, posting about your case could accidentally violate attorney-client privilege. If you and your lawyer have discussed something confidential and you post about it on social media, your opponent’s lawyer could force your lawyer to reveal all communications about that aspect of the case. It is an easy way to jeopardize your attorney’s legal strategy.
So, how do you keep yourself safe on social? First, keep your privacy settings on lock. On large sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you have the choice of whether or not to keep your profile public, or to only let select people see what you post. While a site like Twitter allows you to browse anonymously, Facebook tends to be strict about your identity, and Instagram posts, image-focused as they are, can leave a trail of breadcrumbs that lead right back to you. The University of Texas’ Center for identity has a great primer on managing your social media privacy settings.
Do not accept friend or follower requests from people you do not know. They could very well be people associated with your opposition, and something innocuous as a new Instagram follower could cost you thousands of dollars. Keep your social media presence family-friendly. As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it to your boss or your grandmother, keep it offline. A misinterpreted raunchy joke or ironic comment can be twisted in ways you never imagined. If you’re not careful they’ll come back to bite you. As the old saying goes, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Or, to put it in a more modern (and half-serious) way, never tweet.
Keep this information in mind to prevent social media from sabotaging your malpractice case.