If you’ve been injured, whether at work, in a car accident, at a store, the advice is the same: be exceedingly careful what you post on social media. Even seemingly routine interactions online can be twisted and used against you by an insurance company or defense attorney. Before you know it, a status update, private message or fun photograph could be the thing that undermines your personal injury claim. To learn more about the dangers of social media on personal injury cases, keep reading.
For one thing, social media posts can be used to undermine claims of physical injury. If you’ve been hurt and have filed a claim, you are likely asking for compensation related to medical bills as well as compensation for noneconomic harm, such as pain and suffering related to your physical injury. You’d be surprised just how easily social media posts can undercut such claims. A real life example happened in the case of a woman who sued after a rear-end car collision left her seriously injured. The defense attorneys scoured her Facebook profile and discovered a photograph of her dancing with her brother after the accident had occurred. The defense argued this photo proved not only that she wasn’t suffering from a serious physical injury, but that she had experienced no loss of enjoyment of life. The judge agreed and ruled against the plaintiff.
Social media posts can also be used to undercut claims of psychological distress. A common complaint is that people who have suffered a serious physical injury now suffer from anxiety, depression and isolation, and are simply unable to enjoy their lives in the way they were previously able. Defense attorneys and investigators can use Twitter messages, Snapchat posts and Facebook messages to tell a very different story. Pictures of you smiling and having a good time can be used against you as can even seemingly innocuous messages from friends wishing you well, proof that you aren’t isolated and have been able to maintain a strong social network.
Many people are surprised to learn that something shared between friends can be used against them by defense attorneys. The reality, which is crucial to understand, is that anything posted online is deemed public and can be accessed by anyone for any reason. If you’re engaged in a personal injury claim and money is on the line, the other side has a real incentive to dredge up whatever they can to poke holes in your claim. Though you can’t control everything, you can control your social media presence and avoid handing the other side damaging information that can later be used against you.
Legal experts say if you’re preparing for litigation there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, immediately make all social media accounts private. This won’t eliminate all risk, but it’s a start. Second, even if your accounts are private, avoiding posting updates that mention your physical or emotional condition or your financial situation. Third, avoid posting pictures or discussions of places you’ve been or events you’ve attended, this can all be used against you. Finally, have a conversation with your friends and ask them to avoid tagging you in their photos, as this too can be a source of trouble.
If you, or someone you love, has been injured and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Madison / Jackson personal injury attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at (601) 856-7800.