The vast majority of Americans use social media. Many of them regularly access popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram multiple times daily, using it to post photos and status updates, keep up with what their family and friends are doing, and stay current on the news. Under normal circumstances, being active on social media is not likely to cause any major problems, but when you are involved in a personal injury claim, this is not the case.
If you have suffered injury at the hands of another party and you are pursuing a claim for damages, your social media activity could be very damaging to your case. For example, let’s say you were at work on a construction site and you fell from a high elevation and got seriously injured because a contractor working nearby spilled a slippery substance on the platform you were on.
This being a major event in your life, you might be tempted to post some photos of the accident scene and make some comments about what happened. And since you will probably want to reassure your loved ones that you will be okay, you might make overly optimistic statements about your injuries without really knowing their full extent.
All of this might sound like normal social media activity – and it is – but posts and comments like these can be used by the other side to undermine your claim. Here are just a few of the ways your social media posts might damage your personal injury case:
- Comments Taken Out of Context: Whatever you say on a social media post can be twisted and turned around by the other side. For example, just an innocent update telling your family and friends that you are “feeling much better” could be taken to mean that your injuries were not really as bad as you made them out to be.
- Posted Photos Used to Misrepresent Your Condition: While recovering from your injury, you might want to do something relaxing with your friends, like go to a spa and enjoy yourself. But be careful about posting photos of you laughing and enjoying yourself with others, because they can also be used particularly to diminish claims for noneconomic losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
- Comments and Photos Posted by Friends and Family used Against You: Maybe you didn’t post any comments or photos, but others in your circle did. And some of these might involve you, such as photos you are tagged in and comments about your injury or something else you are doing. These could also be uncovered by the other side and used against you.
There is No Expectation of Privacy on Social Media
Many people look at what we have said so far and think, “that won’t affect me, because I have strict privacy settings on my social media profiles”. Don’t be so sure about that. Defense lawyers and insurance companies have vast resources, and they employ investigators who are very tech savvy and have creative ways of finding information about you from social media. For example, someone working for the insurance company could become a friend of your friend, and you might inadvertently accept their friend request not knowing who they are but thinking it is someone your friend knows.
Even if none of that happens, all of your electronic correspondence is discoverable in a legal proceeding and it could be subpoenaed by the other side if they decided to take it that far. So, with this in mind, you should never post anything on social media that you do not want the whole world to see.
When you are involved in a personal injury case, the best practice is to suspend your accounts while the case is ongoing and restart them when it is over. If you are not able to quit social media cold turkey, at the very least, refrain from posting anything or commenting on anyone else’s posts. Also be sure to change your settings so you cannot be tagged in someone else’s post. In other words, only use social media as an information tool and nothing more.
Suffered a Personal Injury in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.
If you or someone close to you got injured through no fault of your own, you will need an experienced attorney to help guide you through the claims process and avoid common pitfalls like using social media while the proceeding is ongoing. If your injury occurred in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.