Social media has revolutionized information sharing. Not only does it allow us to stay connected with both long-lost friends and random high-school acquaintances you spoke to that one time, but it also allows for us to share what’s going on in our lives with the rest of the world. Those who are regularly on social networks probably have at least one friend who seems to share just a little bit too much of their personal life, and that could be a huge problem, particularly if you’re going through a legal matter, such as a personal injury claim. Even if you’re normally guarded about what you post online, you may be shocked how even a seemingly-innocuous post could wind up coming back to harm your injury claim.
WHAT YOU POST IS PUBLIC INFORMATION
When you are injured in an accident and file an injury claim, the legal professional who is hired to defend the party you are attempting to hold responsible wants to make sure you’re being honest about your claim. Is your hand really broken or crippled? Are you really unable to walk?
You’ve probably seen movies where shifty private investigators follow their target around in the shadows and keep an eye on them while taking notes and pictures. Well, this actually isn’t too far off from the truth, and in the digital age, these investigations have become even easier since people sometimes provide all of the evidence the defense needs to win their argument.
One thing we find most people don’t realize is that anything and everything they post on social media is public information. Even if you have your privacy settings locked down tight, anything and everything you place online goes into a sphere where it could potentially be accessed by anybody else on that social network. If you think you have full control over who’s viewing those posts, you’ll probably find out the hard way that you’re wrong. Odds are the defense in your case not only has access to your posts and has thoroughly scanned them, but is keeping a very close eye on what you post as well as what your closest acquaintances post as well. If a picture of you going bowling mere days after filing an injury claim for a severely injured arm suddenly appears, the defense will likely enter this picture as evidence and attempt to have your case dismissed.
Conversely, sometimes posts are not intended to be malicious, but their content can be twisted and misconstrued to support the defense’s arguments and put an end to your claim. Say you are injured, are forced to resign from your job because of it, and begin to suffer from serious depression. You and your attorney both decide to seek damages for your lost wages, medical bills, and emotional distress. Well, the defense will often go straight to your social media and look for any evidence they can use against you. If your profiles are covered with posts that show you smiling with your kids and talking about how blessed you are in your life, the defense will likely enter this as evidence to argue your mental state is fine, which weakens your case. Even if these posts are simply to hide what’s actually going on in your personal life and put up a brave face in this extremely tumultuous period, your defense will likely argue the contrary and it’ll be hard to show otherwise.
If you’re involved in a personal injury case, how can you protect yourself and your case in a world dominated by social media? The easiest and perhaps most obvious way is to completely deactivate your accounts and get off social media until your case has resolved. For smaller cases that take a few weeks at their longest, this probably isn’t all that difficult. However, for serious injury cases that take months or even years to come to a conclusion, this may not be as practical. This also may not be the most practical option for those who use social media as part of their careers or rely on some of its features to stay in contact with friends and family members on a daily basis.
If staying off social media isn’t an option for you, then you need to take a few extra steps. Inform your attorney about your social media accounts right from the outset and allow them to take a look through your posts. So long as you haven’t posted anything about your accident, they’ll probably tell you to leave your accounts alone and avoid posting publically as much as possible.
Finally, if you do post, one thing you should do is run everything through a test. Take what you’re about to post and think “What is the absolute worst possible way this could be twisted and used against me in my case” If you think anything in that post could in any way come back to negatively impact your case, do not hit the share button.
However, while social media is nearly always detrimental to your case, there are instances in which it could actually help you. Did you post pictures of the damage to your car immediately after your accident? If so, these pictures along with the time and date of the post could actually be used to corroborate your side of the story, especially when the other party is claiming the accident happened on a different day or that the accident was so small it couldn’t possibly have injured you to the extent that it did. Once again, your attorney will likely point this out to you during the early stages of your case, and they will likely tell you not to touch anything that could possibly be used in your favor.
For more information on how social media can impact your personal injury claim or to obtain representation from a skilled Tulsa personal injury attorney, contact Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC today at 918-492-7674 to request a consultation.