When you file a personal injury claim, it’s critical that you monitor your social media to protect your case.
Let’s face it. Almost everyone uses social media. And with an estimated 230 million users in the US alone, your posts are probably being viewed by a lot more people than you think. No big deal, right? Well it is if you have an active personal injury case.
In almost every personal injury claim or lawsuit, the insurance company from the opposing side–and maybe even your own insurance company–actively monitors the claimant’s social media accounts. They are searching for any information they can use to weaken or outright deny your claim.
Because of this, it’s best to think twice before sharing anything on social media while you are actively pursuing a personal injury claim. The best thing you can do is stop using social media altogether.
In this article, we will explain how insurance companies use your social media posts, how it can harm your case, how simple things can be misconstrued, and how all of that can lead to you getting less money for your injury.
Is Social Media Admissible in a Personal Injury Claim?
According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, social media is admissible in a personal injury claim because it is electronically stored information. This information, such as Facebook comments, Instagram posts, tweets, text messages, and emails can all be used as evidence.
To be admissible in court, electronically stored information must meet the following criteria:
- Must be relevant to the personal injury case
- Must add value to the defense’s case
- Should not be hearsay
- Should be authentic, meaning it was created by or about the defendant
If it fits these criteria, then it can be used against you in court. And chances are it meets criteria for court admission because most social media posts do. The simple point is that social media posts and comments can sink your claim without your realizing it. Even posts that are not nefarious may be misconstrued in their use against you.
Social Media Tips for Protecting Your Personal Injury Claim
Don’t Post About Your Accident or Case
We are all used to updating our friends and family about everything that happens in our life, especially when it’s a life-changing event. This means that if you were injured in an accident or you are a part of a lawsuit, you might be tempted to share about it.
However, many types of social media posts and comments can create more trouble than they’re worth in the long run.
You may think the photos of your accident clearly show that the other person is at-fault. However, those photos can actually tell a completely different story if the other party can find a way to twist it.
A great example of how not everyone sees things the same, even with photo evidence, are the optical illusions that are popular online. Have you ever seen the “white and gold versus blue and black dress” debate? Or the popular post about whether the sneaker is gray and teal or white and pink?
Uncertainty is entertaining in a viral post. But it’s the last thing you want in your personal injury case.
These may seem like irrelevant examples, but they are an indicator of how an image can be interpreted in multiple ways by different people.
If you are involved in a personal injury case that is using social media evidence, the defense will intentionally look for ways to interpret your posts in a way you didn’t intend. If your case goes to trial, the opposing lawyer can try to influence the jury with their own interpretation of your Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and other status updates.
Even Innocent Posts May Contradict Your Claim
When innocent posts are taken out of context, they can appear to contradict your injury claim.
Let’s consider the example of someone who develops severe back pain due to a slip and fall accident and decides to file an injury claim. While the case is going on, you reluctantly go to your nephew’s birthday pool party because he really wanted you to come. All you did was sit in a lawn chair and watch.
However, multiple people posted photos online of you at the pool party. These innocent photos could easily be twisted by the insurance company to show that your back injury isn’t as severe as you claim it is or else you wouldn’t be able at a party.
Of course, this is a complete misrepresentation, but it is exactly the kind of tactic that can be used against you. These simple photos can call into question how serious your back injury is and impact how much compensation you’re offered or how much a jury will award you.
Let’s consider another example. You post a status update to Facebook talking about how excited you are for some upcoming time off work. You can’t wait to have some time to do whatever you want.
In your mind, you meant you were gonna sleep on the couch and binge watch Netflix because you are exhausted and in pain from a recent serious car accident. But an insurance company could manipulate this to make it appear as if you were planning on going on an extravagant vacation.
The fact is, you were the one that decided to share that information on social media. How the insurance company decides to use or twist that info is up to them.
This is why we always say that it is best to not post anything to social media while you’re involved in an active personal injury case.
Comments From Others Can Hurt Your Case
Not only can your own posts have an impact on your case. Comments on your social media accounts can also hurt your case.
A comment from a family member such as, “I’m glad you’re okay,” probably means I’m glad you’re pulling through. Not that your health is perfect. This is a perfect chance for the at-fault party’s lawyer or insurance company to manipulate the situation.
If you are involved in a personal injury case, explicitly ask your friends and family to not post anything about your accident, injuries, or recovery. If anybody violates this rule or just didn’t know, make sure to delete their comment as soon as possible.
As you can see above, even the most innocent get-well wishes can be twisted into something seemingly nefarious.
Make Your Profile and Posts Private
When you first begin the process of filing a personal injury claim, it is imperative that you set all of your social media accounts to private.
This does not mean that the insurance company or the opposing attorneys will not be able to find anything about you. But it will limit what new information is available to them.
It should be noted that even a private account is still accessible through shady tactics using fake accounts. For this reason, you should never accept a friend request from someone you don’t personally know.
If you have any questions about how to change the privacy settings on your social media accounts, you can find more information here.
If In Doubt, Do Not Post
If you do not know whether a post could negatively affect your personal injury case, the best choice is to not share it at all.
There is no photo, status update, or video worth compromising your claim. Keeping those details private is one of the steps that will help you to recover the highest possible compensation amount for your damages.
Hire a Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer to Guide Your Claim
Abels & Annes will fight to make sure you get the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will do our best to prevent misleading information being admitted into court or allowing it to influence negotiations. Let us put our experience to work for you.
For a free initial consultation, call us at 855-749-5299 or contact us online.
*not including code below, the word count for this post is 1338
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 27, 2015
Weird!! I can see both pink and white or grey & teal depending on where I focus my eye first. So trippy. This beats the dress. pic.twitter.com/J1hWY3JUZ3
— Jen Lilley (@jen_lilley) October 13, 2017