Any American who has watched a police procedural has heard it: A newly-arrested
told by a police officer that they have the right to remain silent. This
protection against self-incrimination is a Constitutional right in criminal
cases. However, remaining silent isn’t just a good idea in criminal
cases. There are many reasons why lawyers tell their clients not to discuss
their civil cases, too.
The Dangers of Discussing Your Civil Case on Social Media
Anything bad enough to give rise to a civil lawsuit is bound to be frustrating,
both emotionally and financially. Thus, it’s easy to understand
the temptation to vent some frustration over a civil legal dispute. However,
mouthing off about things like a car crash or an injury at work can get
clients in trouble in a hurry. In the age of social media and smart phones,
anything you say could get recorded for posterity and become available
to the world.
Of course, opposing lawyers are now savvy to the electronic footprint people
leave. In our experience, one of the first things defense attorneys do
is check social media to see if our clients have said or posted something
that could undermine their injury claim.
In newsworthy cases, defense attorneys will also scour media reports for
statements indicating hostility or anger. They use such statements to
paint a plaintiff as a “disgruntled person” who “has
a chip on their shoulder.”
It’s not just statements that can cause problems. Defense lawyers
will use photos or videos of people on vacation to show that an injury
didn’t affect the quality of their lives. In fact, any plaintiff
who is shown appearing to have a good time - relaxing with friends, drinking
socially, or enjoying a day at the beach - will probably end up being
confronted about it before a jury.
Court Proceedings MUST Remain Confidential
Issues can arise when people talk about confidential court proceedings
as well. For example, in a case we’re involved in arising from a
boat fire, one of the injured people (who we don’t represent) spoke to a reporter
about the results of a mediation. Unfortunately for him, mediations are
strictly confidential. His dissatisfaction with the vessel owner’s
behavior in settlement negotiations resulted in a motion to dismiss his
case. A federal magistrate appeared to recognize that the man simply made
a mistake and recommended against dismissal, but there’s no final
Finally, there’s a small class of sensational or highly publicized
cases in which silence can be mandatory. Courts have power to override
free speech rights and impose “gag orders” in criminal cases
if they believe a person’s right to a fair trial may be affected
by out-of-court statements. This recently happened in the cases involving
Trump associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. While Stone and Manafort
are free to speak to the press about anything else, they—along with
others involved in their cases—must refrain from talking to the
media in a way which could contaminate potential jurors.
Do You Have a Case? Call Roman & Gaynor: (727) 877-1212.
As you can see, there are plenty of pitfalls for those who talk or share
too much about their case. That’s why it’s best to keep quiet
when important legal matters are at stake, and to align yourself with
a reputable, proven attorney. At Roman & Gaynor, you’ll get
Backed by more than 50 years of combined legal experience, we are fierce
advocates of the wrongfully injured. Our Board Certified civil trial attorneys
have secured upwards of $65 million in verdicts and settlements for our
past clients, and we are ready to help you achieve similar success.
If you were injured, do not wait to contact a
Clearwater personal injury attorney at our office. Consultations are FREE and completely confidential.
Call (727) 877-1212 or
complete an online case evaluation form to get started today.