Personal injury claims are about more than money—they’re about being able to heal and regroup after a traumatic event. Serious personal injury can leave you unable to work for months, or worse, permanently change your life due to irreparable damage. That’s why it’s so vital that you do nothing that could impact your chances of your claim being denied. One way you may inadvertently damage your claim is through social media. While sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be a great communication tool in many instances, you must be very careful using these sites during a personal injury claim.
Social Media Posts Are Admissible in Court
Anything you post on social media sites can be included as evidence in your personal injury case. Typically, social media posts are classified as statements of a party. Because you are a party to your case, these statements made outside of the court can be used against you. What’s more, the opposing attorney can request a copy of your social media posts and profile during the case’s discovery phase. This includes any posts you have made that are set to be viewed by only people on your social media friends list or that you have set as private.
If you do not cooperate during discovery, the opposing party can petition the judge to issue a court order requiring you to provide the information requested. They will need to show good cause, but you must turn over the requested information or face being in contempt of court if they do. The court can also issue an order requiring you to reactivate a social media account you have recently deactivated. They can issue a subpoena to the social media website to retrieve deleted profiles or provide information directly to the court.
Comments and Posts from Others May Also Be Admissible
Unfortunately, even social media content that you did not post can be damaging to your case. Posts made by your friends or family members that speak about your injuries or the case, in general, can be admitted as evidence in your case. Comments left on your posts may also be used as evidence. Because of this, it’s in your best interest to let your friends and family know to keep all information about your case off of social media, regardless of how minor or inconsequential it may seem to be.
What You Post Can Contradict Your Testimony
One of the biggest uses of social media posts in personal injury claims is to contradict given testimony. This would carry with it the charge of perjury if the contradicted statements were made under oath. Your social media posts about doing certain activities may show that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim or that you’re not as limited as you’ve stated. Photos and videos can be especially harmful.
Social Media Sites May Show Your Location
Some social media sites give you the option to check-in at a business or other location. Others may tag your posts or photos with your location. This information can also be used to contradict your testimony or highlight that you’re more capable than you’ve indicated. For example, if you check-in at a gym, that information can be used to show that your mobility isn’t as limited as you have claimed. Some sites automatically add this location information by default, so you may want to adjust those settings regardless of what activities you’re doing.
Your Posts May Inadvertently Show More Than You Think
Something as simple as posting a photo of you standing may be enough to indicate that you are capable of more than it may seem. Even if this doesn’t contradict any statements you’ve made, it still shows that you are physically able to stand. You don’t even need to be in such a photo for it to show that you are physically capable of specific actions. For example, taking a picture of your dog on a well-known hiking trail can be used to show that you were capable enough of walking a significant distance.
Posts about the Future Could Also Raise Red Flags
Posting about your plans may also cause some difficulty in court if those plans include major purchases. This could be seen as an indication that you are counting on winning a large settlement When combined with other statements, posts, and evidence, it could even be used to show that your injuries are not significant. Keep all mentions of any major purchase, vacation, or other financial decisions off of social media during your case.
How to Use Social Media during Your Personal Injury Case
If you regularly use social media sites and don’t want to lock down your profiles entirely or do not want to stop posting during your case, there are some things you can do to minimize the amount of damage your posts could do. First, do restrict your posts to friends only. While the opposing party may still get access to your social media via your friends or court order, it does reduce the chance that your posts will be widely circulated.
Next, never post anything related to your case, your injuries, what you hope the outcome will be, or any other statement that directly or indirectly relates to the claim. This can be very difficult because, as shown above, even small details can be used in court to contradict your testimony, which is why it’s best to post nothing until the claim is settled.
Be very careful about accepting new friend requests during this time, especially if you do not recognize the person. While these requests may not come from anyone involved in the case, you cannot be too cautious. You may also wish to remove certain friends or significantly limit their access to your information during this time.
Remember, too, that you may not be allowed to post about your case after it has been settled. Some personal injury settlements, especially those that are done out of court, may include a confidentiality statement that publicly prevents you from discussing the settlement results. A social media post is considered public, even if you have your profile restricted. You could be found in violation of the confidentiality clause and be forced to pay back the settlement. Here again, note that a post by a friend or family member that references your settlement can also be considered a violation because you shared details of the settlement with that individual.
Be Cautious with Social Media
During a personal injury claim, the safest option is to lock down your social media profiles and stop posting until the claim is finalized. However, that can be a long time, and many people only keep up with some friends or family members through social media. It can’t be stressed enough that you need to be very cautious about what you post during this time. Social media is a great way to keep up with others, but it’s also a public forum in the eyes of the court. Anything posted there can appear in court, so keep that in mind at all times. Essentially the insurance company and the opposing counsel will try to use anything they can to minimize the value of your claim.
The information on this website is for general information and is not formal legal advice, diagnosis, or medical advice. We highly recommend that you contact an attorney for legal advice specific to your current situation, as this website may not reflect current laws or legal developments, verdicts, or information that is 100% accurate. Do not act or refrain from acting based on any content on this site.
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