Posted on November 14, 2018 in Personal Injury
Social media is a large part of many of our lives, with people in all generations taking to the internet to connect with their families, friends, and the rest of the world. These platforms are such a prevalent part of our lives that we don’t even think twice about sharing where we are, what we’re doing, and what we had for lunch. While posting online may seem harmless, it can come with consequences if you’re in the middle of a personal injury claim.
Social media platforms are part of the public record, meaning that anything posted to one can become evidence in court. If you’re in the midst of a legal matter, the last thing you want is for a simple Twitter or Facebook post to ruin your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.
How Can Social Media Impact a Personal Injury Case?
Anyone who’s gone through a personal injury claim understands that your case must meet specific legal requirements to become eligible for compensation. One of those requirements is that you must have sustained injuries serious enough to warrant financial compensation. Medical records often constitute proof that you’ve suffered damages for your claim.
However, the defendant in your case (or more specifically, that party’s insurance company) doesn’t want to pay you for those damages. Aside from disproving fault for the accident, a defense against a personal injury claim might be that your injuries aren’t as severe as you make them out to be. Previously, this approach may have involved watching your activities in public spaces to see if you act outside the scope of your injuries.
In the digital age, social media can do that work for the defendant. If you’ve filed a claim for a broken leg that you suffered due to a car accident and the other party’s lawyer sees a picture of you on Facebook performing gymnastics before the trial, you can bet that photo’s going to be part of the case against you.
Even something as simple as a few words or an emoji can work against you. If you mention feeling better online, even if you just mean a little, the opposing lawyer may make a case that you’ve recovered from your injuries. And since precedent has established social media posts can serve as evidence, a careless post can reduce your final compensation amount or prevent you from recovering compensation at all.
Best Practices for Using Social Media During a Personal Injury Claim
To help protect your rights during a personal injury claim, follow these suggestions:
- Stay off social media as much as possible. You may not intend for a post to be about your case, but that doesn’t mean that the other party won’t take the opportunity to turn your words and photos against you. Rather than watching what you post, it’s safer not to post at all. Some platforms even allow you to temporarily deactivate your account.
- Set your account to private. If you don’t deactivate your account or go offline, you should set it to private so that only people you give access to can see your posts and account details.
- Don’t accept any new friend or follower requests. Once you switch to private, do not accept any friend requests until your case is over. Just because your account is on private doesn’t take it out of the public domain, and lawyers may set up a dummy account to gain access to your posts. Save adding new contacts for once your case is over.
- Ask your friends and family not to talk about you or the case online. Even if you abstain from social media, your friends and family’s posts can still serve as evidence against you. Ask that those around you not to post any pictures of you.
Even once you complete your claim and win compensation, it can be best to not discuss the case on social media. No matter how much Facebook and Twitter have become part of our lives, they just don’t mix with legal matters.