While social media has enhanced positive connections and relationships with people worldwide, as we share personal information, it becomes public to internet users, including for the eyes of those we don’t intend. In the case of a personal injury claim, what you share on social media could ruin or damage your case.
If you were injured in Louisiana because of the reckless, negligent or intentional misconduct of another, it’s vital that you understand how sharing your life on social media can hurt your chance for monetary recovery.
Social Media is Scoured By Defendant’s Attorneys
Before social media infiltrated social venues, defendants’ attorneys in personal injury claims had limited access to evidence. However, since the advent of social media, when you’ve been injured and post on social media, you may unwittingly provide the injuring person or entity (defendant) and their attorney with an abundance of information you don’t want them to have. To elucidate this point, as of January 2019, these are statistics on worldwide social media users in the most common platforms.
- Facebook—2.27 Billion
- Facebook Messenger—1.3 Bill
- Instagram—1 Billion
- YouTube—1.9 Billion
- WhatsApp—1.5 Billion
- WeChat—1.08 Billion
Globally, it’s estimated that there are 3 billion humans regularly using social media to communicate, connect, educate and collect information. Relevant to you as an injured person, Statista (the online statistics portal) reports that in the United States, “an estimated 244 million people used social media in 2018.”
Social Media Review for Personal Injury Clients
While it might not occur to you that the defendant’s lawyer will review your social media sites, they will. What you post could hurt more than the actual financial and emotional harm caused by your accident because what’s on social media is admissible evidence in a civil court proceeding.
Legal Approach for Personal Injury and Social Media
It works both ways.
When you’ve been injured by another and are seeking monetary damages for the harm done to you, a caring, dedicated attorney will battle aggressively for your just compensation. Likewise, the defendant’s attorney will battle back just as aggressively and will use any evidence at their disposal to prove your claim is unjustified. Every element of your claim including physical harm, emotional distress, loss of companionship or consortium and diminished quality of life will be examined and possibly disproved in a diligent attempt to deny your financial damages claim.
Personal Injury Evidence Against You Via Social Media
The obvious question is why would you?
For instance, if a person claims their back is seriously injured because of a slip-and-fall on an owner’s property, but after the accident, they post photos or videos of them lifting weights, they may as well forget about financial recovery.
Or after a car accident when a person claims they’ve endured a head trauma that has affected them cognitively, but they’ve posted coherent, detailed stories about their life and activities, supposed cognitive damage will likely be opposed by the defendant’s attorney.
Insurance claims’ adjusters, defense attorneys, and other parties involved in your accident will do whatever they can to minimize the defendant‘s liability so they won’t have to pay for your injuries–using your own words, photos and videos against you.
To win a financial settlement, your attorney must prove that your injuries caused by the accident are real and significant.
What Not to Post on Social Media During a Personal Injury Trial
Though it’s tempting to engage with others on social media—for some it’s a daily habit–, it may be a good idea not to use it while your personal injury case is pending. If you can’t totally unplug, here’s what you should and should not do.
To begin, check social media posts that may already exist on the internet about your physical, medical or psychological issues especially preexisting conditions. Whether injuries were minor or serious, it’s a bad idea to alert the defendant and their attorney to a possible preexisting injury defense. If such information appears, it could be used against you and compromise your claim.
Google your name and search on Bing, Yahoo, ask.com, DuckDuckGo, mylife.com, aol.com and internet archives to see what’s online about you. If any compromising data appears that may affect your personal injury recovery, delete it if possible.
During the personal injury claim process, you should increase your privacy and security settings to ensure that only people you know well can access your social media. On most social media platforms, you can block anyone who you don’t know or is someone who shouldn’t know all your personal business. Also, during this time, you should not accept friend requests even if you think you know the person—it could be someone posing as someone they’re not to gain personal information about you. But regardless of how secure you may think your posts are, it’s still possible for intruders to view your information.
Public Information on Social Media During Personal Injury Case Can Hurt Your Case
Further harmful statements you should never post on social media if you hope to win a financial settlement may include seemingly innocuous statements such as:
“I crashed my car” or “I wasn’t looking when I crossed the street.” These comments could be construed as you acknowledging the accident was your fault because you crashed your car or that you stepped onto a road (not paying attention).
“I’m sorry.” If the accident wasn’t your fault, why are you apologizing? While you may mean something innocent, it can easily be construed as that you believe you did something to cause the accident.
“I’m okay” or “I’m doing alright” could be used by a defense attorney to show that there’s nothing wrong with you or you’re not seriously injured.
“That idiot wasn’t paying attention!” or “I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me!” referring to the person who caused your accident could lead the defense to believe you’ve filed a claim out of vindictiveness rather than you were seriously hurt.
Posting Photos And Videos Post-Accident On Social Media Will Hurt Your Personal Injury Case
Photos and/or videos from the accident scene of your injuries, in the hospital or doctor’s office, receiving treatment and other visuals that may be used against you (especially in which you’re smiling or look undisturbed) should never be posted on social media.
ZERO Right To Social Media Privacy for Personal Injury Cases
So, if it’s not clear already, this is a reminder that you have zero right to privacy on social media because postings are considered public statements.
When it comes to social media after you’ve suffered accident injuries, the best strategy is to stay off social media until you receive a fair settlement. But if you can’t do that, it’s imperative that you follow the above guidelines.
As a Shreveport and Bossier City attorney Joseph “Joey” Greenwald, Jr. has advised his Louisiana clients about minimizing or eliminating social media’s impact on their personal injury claims. Attorney Joseph Greenwald, Jr. will explain precisely what you should (and shouldn’t) do to maximize a monetary settlement for your injuries.
Contact Personal Injury Attorney Joseph Greenwald, Jr. Today For A Free Case Assessment
If you’ve been injured because of the reckless, negligent or intentional misconduct of a person or entity, you need the guidance, skills and knowledge of an experienced personal injury attorney.
During a free, no-obligation consultation, attorney Joseph “Joey” Greenwald, Jr. will listen to what happened to you and assess how he can help you win a monetary settlement. As his client, unlike some larger personal injury firms, you’ll always have direct contact with attorney Greenwald who’ll take a hands-on approach to your case. To schedule a meeting in his conveniently located Shreveport office, call 318.219.7867. Or if you prefer, send him a private, confidential message on his contact form. Attorney Greenwald serves his neighbors throughout Shreveport and Bossier City, and he also has a license to practice law in Mississippi.