Most Americans use one or more social media platforms to connect with friends and family, and to stay updated on everything that is happening. Facebook, Instagram, and others have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other, and for many people, social media is an integral part of their lives.
While being active on social media is generally fine most of the time, it is a much different story if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit. If you were hurt in a car accident or suffered any other type of injury that was someone else’s fault, the things you say on social media can definitely be used against you. And in fact, social media posts could even cost you your right to recover compensation for your injuries.
How Social Media Activity Can Damage your Personal Injury Case
Suffering a significant personal injury that someone else caused is a major event in a person’s life, so it is understandable that they would be tempted to post about it on Facebook or whatever their favorite platform is. But it is important to realize that your friends and family may not be the only ones who read your posts. The other side will be trying to view them as well, looking for any way they can to diminish her claim.
Here are just a few of the common social media activities that could jeopardize your claim:
- Posting comments about the accident: One of the first things many people do after accident is to post comments about it on their social media. This can be very dangerous, because your thoughts and feelings immediately after an accident could be clouded by emotions. Some people are also naturally inclined to admit fault or be apologetic about something bad that happens even if they had nothing to do with it. Comments like these can be twisted around and often used to pin at least some of the blame for the accident on the person who was injured.
- Posting comments and photos about your physical condition: Another thing that can be problematic after an accident is to post photos of yourself and/or comments about your physical condition, how you are feeling, or anything related. For one thing, you may not know the full extent of your injuries until you have had a thorough examination. In addition, many people want to reassure those closest to them that they are doing okay and that they are optimistic about their prognosis. But if you are making a claim for damages to compensate you for both physical and emotional injuries, comments like these can be used to undermine such claims.
- Posting photos that show activities you are involved in and commenting on them: Even posts that are unrelated to your accident and injury can be used against you, especially if they show you on vacation relaxing and/or having a good time with those around you. These again could be used to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you are claiming, and that you have not really suffered that much emotional distress because of them. Be careful also about others tagging you in photos and change your settings so that this cannot be done without your approval.
Strict Privacy Settings May Not Help
Some people believe that they can post whatever they want on social media because they have strong privacy settings. It is always good to protect your privacy and social media, but this might not help you in a personal injury case. Insurance companies have vast resources, and they employ investigators who are very good at finding out what claimants are posting on social media.
For example, they could create fake profiles and become friends with your friends, so they are able to see what you are posting. But even if this or something similar does not happen, all of your electronic activity is discoverable, and it could be subpoenaed if the other side chooses to do so. The bottom line is that you should always assume that whatever you do electronically – whether it be text messages, social media posts, or “private” electronic messages – could be seen by the other side, and act accordingly.
What Should I Do with my Social Media Accounts after a Personal Injury?
If you have the discipline, the best thing to do if you are involved in a personal injury case is to suspend your social media accounts for a while. If your accounts are inactive, then you will not even be able to accidentally do something that damages your case.
If you must maintain your social media accounts, then you should significantly limit your activity. Do not make any comments or posts of your own, adjust your settings so you are never tagged in photos that other people take, and only use your social media to stay informed and updated on what others are doing.
Suffered a Personal Injury in Alabama? Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Attorney
If you or a loved one got injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you will need experienced legal counsel in your corner to help advise you on issues like social media, and to fight hard for the full and fair compensation you deserve. If the injury occurred in Birmingham or any nearby community in Alabama, contact Burge & Burge for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at 205-251-9000 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.