Over the past decade, the use of social media has become widespread with a majority of people registered on at least seven social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are at the top of the list when it comes to user engagement. With any one of these sites, users can share pictures, videos, and posts detailing nearly every aspect of their daily life. From breakfast to a flat tire, it seems nothing is too mundane to post online. For the most part, there isn’t really anything wrong in this tendency to disseminate our daily activities for people to see. However, when it comes to personal injury, your social media posts can cause a great deal of harm to your claim. Indeed, over the past years, many personal injury claimants have ultimately lost their case because of their posts across social media accounts. Here we’ll explore the role of social media in personal injury cases and what you can do to safeguard your bid for compensation.
Social media in court
Social media has become so ubiquitous that it seems to have permeated nearly every aspect of our lives, including our legal battles. Laws and regulations regarding the use of social media as evidence in a personal injury case can vary from state to state. In New York, however, content on social media is considered admissible as evidence in court as long as the content is accessed in a permissible manner.
Although it may seem that what you post on social media platforms has little or nothing to do with an accident that resulted in your injury, the reality is that anything you post online can be used against you. Keep in mind that the defendant’s attorney will have a great deal of experience in extrapolating seemingly minor details and constructing a narrative around them in order to undermine your claim.
To illustrate this point, consider the following scenario: You go to a store and injure your back in a slip and fall case because the owner of the store neglected to clean up a spill. You are unable to drive and miss work because of your injury. You file a personal injury claim against the owner to receive compensation. During this time, you post an innocuous picture of yourself on social media enjoying some ice cream at your house. In mediation or in court, the defendant’s lawyer points out that in this picture you don’t look like someone who is suffering from any sort of injury. They question whether you drove to the store yourself to buy that ice cream, pointing out that if you were truly injured you would not be able to drive. The fact that these implications may be completely unfounded is beside the point. They are enough to potentially cause a mediator, judge, or jury to doubt your claim and question the legitimacy of your injuries, putting your case in jeopardy.
The inverse of this is not much better. If you are in the midst of a personal injury case and delete previously published content from your social media accounts, it can work to your disadvantage. Edited and deleted posts can give the impression that you are trying to hide something which the defendant’s attorney will be sure to expound on in order to make the court question your character and credibility.
How to protect your case
If you are going to file a personal injury claim and are currently active on any social media platform, it would be to your benefit to immediately cease using these accounts until your case has been settled. Once you have secured a personal injury attorney, be sure to discuss this with them. They will be able to advise you and lay down some rules for social media usage for the duration of your case. Usually a personal injury attorney will suggest that you simply do nothing—don’t post anything new and don’t delete anything old. However, because of the interfaces used on social media websites you may be required to take additional steps to protect yourself and your case. These can include:
-switching your social media accounts from public to private
-managing how people can find you by blocking “friends of friends” features
-deactivating any location features that display where you are
-disabling features that allow your friends or followers to “tag” you in their posts
Social media has become such a prevalent part of our lives that it has even made its way into our legal system. If you believe you have a personal injury claim and currently use social media, get in touch with our personal injury attorneys at Novo Law Firm PC. We’ll help guide you through the next steps to ensure that your case is successful and that you receive the compensation you deserve.