United States Representative Anthony Weiner may not have done anything illegal, but he certainly violated a cardinal rule that I caution my children and clients: "Anything you put out on to the internet,you better not mind it being on the front page of the New York Times." Whether by email,text or social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, if you put it out there, it will never go away and may haunt you forever. It’s not always easy, but using good judgment is even more important now that information travels so fast. And if you do something dumb,don’t lie about it, because when you get caught, you lose all credibility.
I just finished giving a talk to about 175 surgical residents on how to avoid being sued for medical malpractice. A surgeon friend of mine thought they should hear it from the "horse’s mouth." I told them three things:
- Develop good relationships w your patients;
DON’T TRY TO COVER UP A MISTAKE, and
If you think you may need a lawyer you probably do, as problems don’t just go away.
Lawyers have been using Facebook and Twitter regularly to find embarrassing or useful information on their adversaries. There are dozens of stories about cases losing value because of a client posting photos showing them engaging in activities that are inconsistent with their claimed injuries. Likewise, numerous defendants have been hard pressed to explain their claims of safety and satisfaction posted prominently on their websites, or talk their way out of possible admissions conveyed in emails. And remember, jurors and judges have Facebook and Twitter accounts, too.
Learn the lesson that Representative Weiner learned the hard way. If any part of your brain is telling you not to post something, don’t do it. You might as well be showing it to the whole world.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.