About 85 percent of Americans have social media accounts, and 70 percent of Americans use social media to interact with each other and share information, according to the Pew Research Center. Social media posting about important events in our lives is second nature to most of us.
Sometimes, however, posting personal details on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media isn’t a good idea. After all, your social media posts are online for the whole world to see. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you should be careful about how you post on social media and who has access to your information. Social media posts can impact your personal injury claim.
How Social Media Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim
Social media activity can have a negative impact on your personal injury claim. Indeed, the wrong post at the wrong time could cost you money — even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Social Media Posts Are Evidence
A post on social media can be evidence against you. Opposing counsel and insurance claims adjusters often review social media posts from injury victims. Sometimes victims say things in posts that negatively affect their personal injury cases. For example, check-ins on social media sites might indicate that you’re participating in activities that seem to contradict the injuries you claim.
Even posts that aren’t about you can affect your personal injury settlement. For example, you might post photos of your spouse on a ski slope. Opposing counsel might ask who took the photos and develop a theory that you were also on the ski slope. If you’ve claimed severe pain from the accident, an attorney could argue that your claim is untrue if you’re well enough to be on the slopes, even if you didn’t ski.
Any post can hurt your case…
Social media posts that show you having fun, even if they don’t show you engaging in prohibited activities, can negatively impact your case because they show that you are still enjoying life, despite your injuries. Your fun could damage claims that your injury lessened your quality of life.
Social media posts from family and friends might rave about the settlement you could receive in a personal injury case, which could also negatively affect the outcome of legal proceedings. Opposing counsel could use that post to convince a jury that you are after a big settlement, whether you deserve it or not.
Even if you think you can be careful about what you post, you probably can’t filter out everything that potentially can harm your personal injury claim. Opposing counsel can twist your words, so they reflect unfavorably on your case. Only an experienced personal injury lawyer understands how social media can impact your case with an insurance company, judge, or jury. The best course of action after an accident is to avoid posting on social media altogether.
Why Are Social Media Posts Admissible in a Personal Injury Case?
In most court cases, what you say outside the courtroom isn’t considered evidence. However, a personal injury case is different because if you have filed a personal injury lawsuit, you are considered a party. Statements that parties in a case make to outsiders are admissible as evidence, so what you say on a social media platform is admissible. Statements that your family and friends made on a social media website also are admissible if they contradict what the individuals said on the witness stand.
You Can’t Limit Damage By Making Your Facebook Posts for Friends Only
While friends can see more of your information and posts than those you haven’t friended, personal injury attorneys and insurance adjusters can gain access to more information than you might think. First, they can scan the lists of your “friends” and then approach them to gain access to what you post. If that doesn’t work, they can obtain a court order to gain access to your social media records. Even if they seek a court order and the judge denies their request, the other side will have succeeded in complicating your personal injury case. The additional litigation will increase the stress you’ll have to endure.
Your Social Media Profile Can Also Provide Information
Social media’s effect on your case isn’t limited just to posts. Lawyers will also snoop around your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn, for anything that disproves your personal injury claim and boosts their case. Minor inconsistencies in profiles can impact your credibility and, ultimately, your case.
Social Media Can Provide Some Useful Information
Social media isn’t all bad. The social media posts of others can be a source of valuable information to help your case. Your personal injury lawyer will likely search social media for those who post pictures or share specific details about the accident. These posters could potentially be witnesses at the trial, supporting your claims of what happened. Of course, the witnesses could also provide evidence detrimental to your personal injury claim by disputing your claim.
How to Avoid Damaging Your Personal Injury Claim On Social Social Media
Having a social media account doesn’t have to cause difficulties for your personal injury settlement. Here are some ways to lessen the risks of damaging your case through social media.
Use Privacy Settings Wisely
Always limit the number of people who can access your social media profile and posts. You can do this on most social media platforms by changing your settings from public to private. While this action can partially protect you from the other side’s lawyers gaining access to this information, it doesn’t mean you’re free to post anything you want. Nothing guarantees that information shared on a private account remains private.
Scrutinize Friend Requests
If you’ve recently sustained injuries in a car accident, be extremely careful about accepting new friend requests. Don’t accept requests from anyone you don’t know well. The friend request could be an attempt by the other side to gain access to your social media posts.
Avoid Commenting on Other’s Posts
You can’t control the privacy settings of others on social media. Be very careful about commenting on anyone’s posts because you can’t prevent them from falling into the hands of your insurance company or a personal injury attorney for the other side.
Avoid Deleting Anything From Social Media Accounts
You may make a mistake and post something about your accident or injuries on social media that you later regret. The temptation is to delete the post right away. However, in some cases, deleting the post could constitute spoliation. Spoliation refers to destroying evidence and can be a crime in many states.
Avoid Using Social Media
One of the safest actions is to avoid using social media when your personal injury case is pending. If you want to continue using your social media account, consider only “liking” the posts of others or posting news articles. However, you should avoid responding to negative comments about others involved in the accident. You should also avoid posting anything about the accident, injuries, or activities until the case is settled.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been involved in an accident and have sustained injuries, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to use social media to help with your case and can advise you on what to avoid doing so you don’t harm your case.
A personal injury attorney can help protect all your legal rights during a personal injury proceeding, negotiating with the insurance adjuster and, if necessary, filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. A personal injury attorney will typically offer a free consultation and will earn money only after they’ve collected money on your behalf.
Most accident victims don’t know any personal injury attorneys. Yet finding an experienced personal injury attorney quickly is critical to obtaining fair compensation for your injury.
1-800-Ask-Gary is a referral hotline to help you find medical and legal professionals who can help you after a car, pedestrian, bicycle, slip-and-fall, or workplace accident. Ask-Gary provides compassionate support and referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1-800Ask-Gary can help injured people find help in New Mexico, Florida, and Minnesota. Contact 1-800Ask-Gary as soon as possible after your accident.