How Social Media Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case
Social media platforms allow us to connect and share, however, if you are involved in a personal injury case what you share on social media can have unintended consequences that may influence the outcome of your claim.
Seemingly innocuous posts can come back to haunt you; here is what you need to know:
Social Media Posts Can Undermine Your Credibility
When you claim injury or loss, the opposing party (and their insurance company) will look for inconsistencies between your testimony and your online presence. A picture of you lifting a heavy bag can be used to argue against the severity of your back injury claim; a post about a weekend outing could be used to counter your claim of emotional distress.
Timestamps Provide a Timeline
Social media platforms provide timestamps on posts, comments, or check-ins that can unintentionally create a timeline that contradicts the alleged sequence of events leading up to or following the injury. For example, if you checked into a gym shortly after a car accident in which you claimed serious injuries, the defense might argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
Privacy Settings are Not Foolproof
Many believe that setting their profiles to “private” shields them from scrutiny. However, courts often permit discovery of private social media content if it’s relevant to the case. Even if the court does not allow direct access, mutual connections or screen captures could leak this information to opposing parties.
Emotional Claims Can Be Contested
Personal injury claims often involve emotional distress damages. Posts that show you smiling, vacationing, or enjoying life can be used by the defense to argue that your emotional suffering is exaggerated.
Engagement Can Be Damaging
Public comments you make can also be taken out of context. A simple venting comment like “I shouldn’t have been in that place at that time” can be twisted to sound like an admission of guilt or contributory negligence. Comments made by friends or family, even in jest, can be taken out of context and used against you.
Deleting Posts: Think Twice
It is tempting to clean up your social media profiles after an accident, but think twice before doing so. Deleting posts can be viewed as destroying evidence. Even deleted posts can be retrieved through various digital forensic methods; if discovered, they can severely damage your credibility in court.
Tips to Protect Yourself
If you are involved in or considering filing a personal injury claim, here are some guidelines to follow:
Limit Social Media Use:
Consider taking a hiatus, otherwise be extremely cautious about what you post.
Review Privacy Settings:
While not foolproof, privacy settings can add a layer of protection.
Educate Friends and Family:
Inform people close to you about the situation and ask them to avoid tagging you in posts or sharing information about you.
Avoid Discussing the Case:
Never share specifics about your case including medical treatment, accident-related details or communications with your attorney.
When in doubt, consult with a personal injury attorney who can provide tailored guidance specific to your situation.
It is essential to remember that by definition, social media is a public platform. and the information shared can impact legal proceedings. Think twice before you post, share, or comment– your personal injury claim may depend on it.
If you are injured at work or in an accident, an experienced personal injury attorney from Sayer, Regan & Thayer can help guide you through the claims process. Please contact us for your free initial consultation.
These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.