If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you should be aware of how using social media may affect your case. Considering the amount of information that people share online, many lawyers are in the habit of looking into the opposing party’s online activities. This has been common in divorce cases for some time and has become quite common in personal injury cases as well.
While you may have a tailored privacy profile on your social media accounts, your best bet is to assume that nothing that you post on social media is actually private. Anything that you share online may potentially be used against you.
What Not to Post Online During a Personal Injury Case
Consider the following suggestions for types of information that you should avoid posting on social media during your personal injury case:
- Details of your accident or injury
- Photos of your injury
- Details of your medical treatments or doctor visits
- Financial details from your case
- Comments about when you got better or went back to work
- Negative comments about the insurance company
- Photos of your recent adventure vacation
It is important not to post anything that would bring your personal injury claims into question. For example, photos of your recent vacation adventures may be used by an opposing lawyer to challenge the seriousness of your injuries.
Even if you have your privacy settings restricted to people that you know and trust, guard the content of your posts as if everything you posted was public information. You also should discourage others from talking about your case on social media and do not respond if they do.
Online Privacy Checkup
In addition, take a good look at your privacy settings on your social media account, and make the following recommended tweaks:
- Change your privacy settings on your social media accounts so that what you post is not available to the public;
- Change your settings so that you cannot be tagged in a video, photo, or other posts;
- Ask your friends and family to not comment on anything regarding your personal injury case on social media;
- Turn off geolocation for your posts;
- Be careful about accepting friend requests. Only accept requests from people you know.
How Can Posts Be Used Against Me In an Injury Case?
Your online activity can potentially be used by the defense to disbackpute any number of elements of your personal injury claim. For instance, your online posts and photos may be used to show that your injuries are not as bad as you claimed, that your injuries didn’t happen when or how you said they did, or that you have some problem that contributed to your fault in the accident.
Investigators for the defense will likely seek to find whatever information they can to show that your timeline does not add up, or that you recovered faster than you claimed, or even that you have a drug or alcohol problem.
Investigators may use something that seems innocuous to you, like being in certain online groups, to lead them to look into a possible preexisting condition that you could have that could undermine your claim.
If you comment on the circumstances of the accident, the defense could use your post to show that you admitted some liability. Time stamps and internet tracking also may be used to contradict your alleged timeline of events. Posts showing you engaging in physical activity after your accident could be used to disprove your injuries or the severity of your injuries.
As much as you enjoy sharing your life events with your friends, the best approach while you are pursuing an injury claim is to take a break from social media and just keep mum.
Let’s look at some more specific examples.
Slip and Fall Cases
If you have been involved in a slip and fall case, you may have photos documenting the conditions that contributed to your fall, as well as photos of bruising or fractures. You may miss work because of your injury.
If you post on social media about the location that you fell, or about your activities after the fall, the defense could mine that information to try to disprove your account of what happened.
They could try to show photos of you smiling or laughing after your accident to show that your alleged emotional distress is not very serious. They may try to use time, date, or location stamps to prove that your photos are not accurate, or the accident did not happen when you said it did.
If the defense can show that your account is not credible, your claim may be undermined.
If you have been injured at work, and have posted anything negative about your company on social media, the defense could question your motives by using your posts to show that you are holding a grudge against your employer.
If you have posted information about your recovery or any activities you are involved in after the accident, the defense may use that information to show that your recovery was faster than you claimed and that you could have returned to work sooner than you did.
The defense can also try to use your online activity to try to show that you somehow contributed to the accident.
Auto Accident Claims
Just as in other kinds of accidents, you need to be careful about discussing online the details of your auto accident, your recovery, and your activities afterward.
Imagine for instance that you have severe injuries, including a back injury. The defense could use a photo of your activities after the accident to show that your injury was not as severe or did not limit your activities, as you claim.
If you claim the loss of enjoyment of life, the defense can try to use almost any photo of you smiling after your accident, or engaging in an active lifestyle, to show that you did not suffer loss of quality of life. There have been many cases that have been thrown out or settled for reduced amounts because the defense successfully used online posts to undermine the plaintiff’s claim.
Consult with Your Lawyer
If you have questions about an injury in any type of accident caused by someone else in New York City, talk with an experienced personal injury attorney at David Resnick & Associates, P.C. Our legal team will review the accident and offer guidance based on years of handling injury cases. We are here to address your questions and help you resolve claims for accidents in New York City.