For most of us, social media is an integral part of our lives. A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that more than 60% of American adults are active on some type of social media platform.
Sites like Facebook and Instagram allow us to share our experiences, post photos of fun events in our lives, and stay in touch with family and friends. And under most circumstances, there is nothing wrong with any of this. If you have been injured by someone else and you are pursuing a personal injury claim, however, it is a different story.
When you experience a significant injury, it is natural to want to tell those closest to you about it. This is, after all, a major life event, and you want everyone to know that you are okay. The problem is that your friends and family may not be the only ones who are reading your social media posts, and things you post online that the other side gets a hold of can be used against you in your case.
Many people do not realize that individuals have no legal right to confidentiality on what they post online. If you put it out there electronically, whether or it be on social media, email, or even by text, what you say is discoverable and can be used as evidence by insurance companies and defense lawyers.
This is why the best approach when it comes to social media during a personal injury case is to stay off of it entirely. In fact, you may even want to suspend your account while you pursue your case, then resume activities once a settlement or jury verdict is reached. We understand that this is not a realistic option for everyone, however. So, if you must use social media, avoid making any posts yourself, and limit your activity to just checking the news and keeping up with what others are doing.
How can Social Media be used Against me in a Personal Injury Case?
There are several things you could post that the other side may use to weaken your personal injury claim, such as:
- Photos of an Accident Scene: One of the first things you might be tempted to do after an event such as an auto accident is to post pictures of the scene. This is never a good idea, because these types of photos can be taken out of context and presented by the other side in a way that undermines your claim.
- Comments Made about the Accident: The other side will also be looking to use things you say about the accident to their advantage. Avoid saying anything that speculates on who might have been at fault for the accident, or any expressions of regret on your part.
- Photos and Comments Updating your Medical Condition: As time goes on and you try to recover from your injuries, you might want to update your social media friends on how you are doing. This is not a good idea either, because comments you make could be twisted around by the other side and used to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim they are.
- Status Updates that are Not Directly Related to Your Claim: You may be surprised to find out that even posts and status updates that have nothing to do with your case could be used against you. For example, you might want to post a picture of you and your family on vacation in Miami Beach smiling, laughing, and having a good time. Even if you are not shown doing any strenuous physical activities, these types of photos might still be used to argue that your injuries are less serious than you claim they are.
Assume Everything you Post is Public Information
You might be saying to yourself, “this advice is fine for others, but I have the strictest privacy settings on my social media profiles, so they will never find my posts.” This is a very flawed way of thinking, and one that could very well cause a lot of trouble for your case. Remember, insurance companies have extensive resources, and they spend a lot of time, effort, and money tracking the social media activities of injury claimants.
Even if your profile is private and you do not believe anyone outside of your closest friends can see it, this type of information has a way of surfacing in spite of our best efforts to prevent it from happening. Keep in mind also that electronic information is discoverable, and it can be subpoenaed by the other side, even if they did not find it on their own. So, assume that anything and everything that you say and do digitally will become known in a personal injury case, and act accordingly.
Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney
If you or someone close to you has been injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you need a seasoned attorney in your corner to provide strong legal guidance and support during this difficult time. If your injury happened in Florida, contact Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett for a free consultation and case assessment. Call our office today at 1-888-219-4561 or message us online to get in touch with our firm. We are ready to go to work for you!