Can the content you post on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram destroy your personal injury case? The answer to the question is a resounding Yes! What you, your friends, and your family share online is fair game in a personal injury case, and even the most innocent postings can be twisted by the opposition to discredit your case.
Social media gives other users an intimate look into your life, and if you’re posting to sites like Instagram and Facebook, the fact is that you can’t always control whose hands your information will wind up in. Internet Live Stats indicate that there are a worldwide total of over 7,700 tweets sent, 807 Instagram photos uploaded, and over 71,000 YouTube videos viewed every second! According to the Pew Research Centers Social Media Fact Sheet, 7 in 10 Americans use social media on a regular basis, which means that even if you don’t use social media, you probably have friends who do. About ¾ of Facebook users and ½ of Instagram users visit the site at least once every day.
Watch What You Say on Social Media
After you’ve been involved in an accident and have a possible personal injury case on your hands, you must severely limit what you, your friends, and your family post that involves you. The insurance adjuster and the insurance company’s legal team are going to begin scouring social media for anything they can manipulate to make it seem as if your injuries are not as you claim. That includes what you’ve posted online, as well as those close to you.
You might get a friend request from someone you don’t know and accept it, not realizing the person behind the account is really an insurance adjuster. They’ll look for pictures you’ve been tagged in, places you’ve checked in, the tone of your posts, and even how many friends wished you a happy birthday.
Suppose you’ve claimed a back injury, but an adjuster finds a post where you talk about helping a friend move. Maybe all you did was help them pack dishes, but that post looks bad for you. Maybe you are claiming a knee injury, and they find pictures of you rollerblading after the accident. Even though they were posted on your friend’s account, you were tagged and they can be used as evidence.
Perhaps part of your personal injury case involves compensation for the social isolation you have experienced because of your injuries, but the defense finds that 120 people wished you a happy birthday. That could allow them to make the argument that you can’t be socially isolated and still have that many friends. Of course, Facebook friends are very different from friends you interact with personally on a regular basis, but that doesn’t matter. Even this flimsy accusation can plant a seed of doubt in the mind of the court and the jury.
To make matters worse, even old posts can be used against you. It is important to review your old social media posts to make sure there is nothing that can be used and distorted, like a complain of knee pain months before an accident that seriously damaged your knee.
Adjust Your Social Media Privacy Settings
After you’ve been involved in an accident, you should make it a point to increase the privacy settings on your social media accounts. Avoiding public posts will make it more difficult for the insurance company’s legal team to access your social media activity.
Strict privacy settings will limit access to past, present, and future information and is well worth doing even if it causes an inconvenience in the short term. You should also avoid accepting any new friend requests until your personal injury case is over unless you know exactly who the person is. This lets you have better control over who can see what you post.
Search for Yourself on Google
Another key step is to Google yourself to see what kind of information comes up. You can be sure that the insurance company’s legal team will be doing this, so you should, too. If the results show anything that you feel could be harmful to your case, contact your attorney. You can also easily set a Google alert, which will inform you via email whenever your name appears anywhere online.
Be Aware of Posting to These Social Media Sites
Here are the most dangerous social media sites when it comes to personal injury cases:
- Facebook – This is the most popular social media platform with over 2 billion users, and one of the easiest and most accessible platforms to find damaging information on.
- Twitter – People send about 500 million tweets per day that are filled with personal thoughts and pictures, all of which are fair game for insurance adjusters. A simple tweet about how much fun you had participating at the company softball game will cast more than a shadow of doubt on your claim of a neck injury after a car accident.
- LinkedIn – With over 450 million users, there will be many insurance adjusters and attorneys (as well as their staff) that are already members and can easily access information about you or your family members on this platform.
- YouTube – This is another source of damaging information, and that includes not just your videos (and those of your friends) but comments made on others’ videos. If you suffered a back injury and you posted a video of yourself chopping firewood it could ruin your case.
- Google+ – While not as popular as Facebook, this platform has had a recent resurgence in popularity (especially among photographers). An old Google+ post about some pain in your knee could adversely affect your case where you claim a knee injury from an accident.
- Foursquare – There are over 55 million active users who use this social media tool to “check-in” to locations. Imagine how it would look if you checked in to rock-climbing venue after a car accident that you claimed injured your back.
If you have accounts on these platforms, you need to immediately begin limiting what you post and reviewing your old posts (as well as those of close friends and family) for information that could be damaging to your case.
Experienced & Trusted Accident Lawyers for Your Personal Injury Case
Even the most innocent social media posts can be used against you once you are involved in a personal injury case. At Donaghue & Labrum, we not only have decades of experience in personal injury lawsuits, but we understand the impact of social media on today’s lawsuits. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, let us help you fight for the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation, don’t wait.