Social media is an important communication tool for millions of people in America, and many folks also use these platforms as their primary sources of information and news.
As you probably know, once something is posted online, it's essentially impossible to erase it completely. By now, everyone is familiar with self-inflicted disasters caused by either careless or reckless activity on social media sites. What you may not know, however, is just how much social media posts can impact a personal injury case.
If you are in the middle of, or about to start, a case following an accident with the help of a personal injury attorney, you must protect yourself. This includes by being careful on social media. Pictures, videos and statements you post on social media could be relevant evidence in your case. Attorneys, insurance investigators and insurance adjusters can use your information to find your social media accounts and use your own posts against you in your case.
For example, imagine you were hurt in an auto accident and broke your leg. You have a personal injury claim against the other driver. Weeks or months after the crash, you post a photo of yourself smiling with family or friends on vacation. The insurer involved in your case might take that photo and use it to argue that you are not as hurt as you say and reduce your compensation amount. Depending on the specifics of your case, they can even use that photo to allege your injury claim is false.
To avoid damaging your case and to make your personal injury attorney’s job easier, you need to know how social media could come into play in your case.
Posting about the accident or your injuries
It might be tough, but never post anything about the accident itself, your recovery or your injuries online. Anything you say in these areas could be used against you if there are any inconsistencies between those posts and what you told the insurer. Even further, defense attorneys might pick apart these statements and compare them to diagnoses made by medical providers in search of inconsistencies. The same applies if the photos or posts appear to show you enjoying yourself when you're claiming pain and suffering. Of course, you can still be in pain and smile in a photo or write a happy-sounding post about your injury, but it's less about what your content is and more about how it looks to a stranger.
Your personal injury attorney might advise you to refrain from any social media posting at all, and they would have a good point.
Accepting friend requests from people you don't know
Never accept any sort of request on social media from a person you don't personally know. While unlikely, some unscrupulous investigators or adjusters could create fake accounts to gain access to your information by connecting with you on social media.
You must also make sure your posts are set to private or just friends and not viewable by the public. This will keep those posts from being seen by anyone who looks you up. Of course, private posts can sometimes be accessed, but changing your settings will minimize the chances of this happening.
Leaving things up that are accessible by a Google search
Google your name to see what type of information someone could find and use against you by searching for your own name online. Check that the results are things that will not impact your personal injury case. If you notice anything coming up that could harm your case, speak to your personal injury attorney immediately. They can advise you on what to do next to limit damage to your case.
It's impossible to completely remove yourself from the web, so there will never be a guarantee that nothing will be found that can hurt your case. However, by taking some precautions and being mindful of how things said or posted on social media can damage your case, you can greatly reduce the risk of your case being damaged, and help your personal injury attorney make the best case possible for you.
Please be advised that this is provided for general information purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the provision of this information. The best resource for information about your case is consulting an attorney.