Social media is a great way to communicate with friends and loved ones. It gives us a platform to express ourselves, share our joys, and vent our frustrations. But if you’re using social media during a personal injury case, it may be doing more harm than good. Below, we’ll take a look at how social media can be used against you in court and what you can do to protect yourself.
Can Social Media Posts be Used in a Personal Injury Case?
Social media has been making appearances in court more often over the last decade. Social media posts are admissible as evidence and may harm your personal injury claim. Insurance companies and defense attorneys will try their hardest to twist any words you post against you, and they may use your social profiles to gather evidence and find and contact your friends and family who may have also been involved in the accident.
Even if your posts have nothing to do with your accident or personal injury case, they may be used to establish your credibility. The insurance company’s attorneys will do whatever they can to paint you in a dishonest light.
What Types of Social Media Content can Cause Problems?
When you think about what types of content may be used against you in court, you may immediately think of the obvious. If you tweet or make a status update saying that you’re feeling great after your accident, it’s clear that this could be used against you. But there are many scenarios you may not have thought of, like:
- Pictures of you attending events – if you hurt your leg in a slip-and-fall accident and you post a picture of yourself dancing at a party the next week, it can make your injury seem less legitimate.
- Comments on posts – let’s say your aunt makes a post on your page saying that she heard about your accident. You comment on the post and say, “Thanks! I’m feeling much better.” That seems innocent enough, but it could get you in trouble.
- Saying something negative about the other parties involved in your case – this may be considered defamation.
- Apologies or admitting fault or guilt – if you say you were partly at fault for the accident or apologize when you weren’t at fault, it can reduce the amount of compensation you receive in a settlement.
Many of the above are true not only on social media but in person as well. For example, saying sorry for an accident if you weren’t at fault can hurt your case. But the difference between that and social media is that with social media, there is a written record of what’s been said.
What Steps to Take After Your Accident
Though social media is great for keeping in touch with friends and family and updating them about your condition, it can lead to trouble. Resist the temptation to post about your accident on social media. In fact, it might be a good idea not to post anything on social media at all, even if it’s unrelated to your accident.
If you’ve already made posts about your accident, deleting them may seem incriminating. It may even be considered tampering with evidence, which can get you into serious hot water.
How to Protect Your Privacy
First, know that your social media is never truly private, even if your account is set to the most restrictive privacy settings. If someone really wants to access your information, there are workarounds. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the privacy settings on social media, though. Make sure only your friends can see your posts, and that they aren’t accessible to the general public. On many social media sites, your posts are set to public by default, so you must change this manually.
Be wary of instant messaging services like Facebook Messenger, too, as these platforms aren’t 100% private. There have been legal cases where plaintiffs were required to give their social media login information. And remember, even if your account is set to maximum privacy, that doesn’t mean your friends’ accounts are. Don’t post to their pages and ask them not to tag you in pictures or posts.
The best thing you can do to protect your privacy is to delete or deactivate your social media accounts altogether. It can be tricky to do this, especially if you rely on social media for communication or entertainment. But remember, your lawsuit won’t go on forever, so this will only be temporary.
And if you aren’t sure what to do or have other concerns about how social media can affect your case, consult with your attorney. They can give you advice about how to handle your case and how to navigate the intricacies of posting on social media.