At a minimum, an accident seriously disrupts your day and alarms you. Your first thought might be to share the event on social media so that your friends and family will know about it. Unfortunately, this action could undermine your personal injury case if you discuss an accident, like a car wreck, slip and fall, or workplace injury. Including a reassuring statement to friends like “I’m going to be ok.” could give an insurer or other defendant evidence to challenge your need for compensation. For this reason, a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas will advise you to limit your use of social media or avoid it altogether when filing an accident claim.
How Can Social Media Posts Harm Your Accident Settlement?
According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 7 in 10 U.S. adults participate on one or more social media platforms. Social media sites and apps are extremely popular and include:
Among Facebook users, 70% of them in the United States visit the site every day. Lawyers and investigators who work for insurers have discovered that social media content can be a goldmine for evidence. They might find information that could contradict claims of injury, reduced lifestyle quality, and fault for the accident.
An insurer or other party facing the possibility of paying an accident claim will scour your social media for damaging posts or comments, such as:
- Statements that contradict your testimony about the accident or your injuries
- Pictures, videos, or statements about participating in physical activities that could be arguably impossible considering your injuries
- Information about your private life and lifestyle that could cast you in a bad light
- Discussions about the confidential aspects of your settlement negotiations or legal case
- Images showing you engaging in daily activities that you claimed were impacted by your injuries
- Statements that criticize the party responsible for the accident or the insurer
- Disclosure of details about your treatments and recovery process
In a case of personal injury in Las Vegas, any plaintiff is vulnerable to misinterpretations of all content. You could have a legitimate claim but still struggle to provide context for your statements and images shared on social media. A picture of you trying to have a good time despite your pain might look like you are not in pain. An injury attorney will have to fight an uphill battle to get your evidence of daily pain recognized in such a situation.
There Is No Privacy on Social Media
Setting your social media profile to private does not guarantee that your activity will stay out of court. If a lawyer can argue that content shared would be relevant to a civil or criminal case, a court can order its release. Social media companies will comply with subpoenas that request user information.
This fact is demonstrated by a January 2020 report from the American Bar Association. A Nevada woman suing a restaurant for a slip and fall tried to resist the defendant’s request to access her fitness activity tracker and public and private social media postings. The defendant’s lawyer argued that the data collected by the fitness tracker would provide insights into her physical condition and the extent of her alleged injuries. A judge accepted the relevancy argument and forced the release of five years’ worth of fitness tracker data and social media content from the previous three years.
Also, keep in mind that even if you have a private social media account, your comments entered on public posts are public. As any personal injury lawyer would tell you, do not consider your online activity safe from prying eyes under any circumstances.
Social Media Best Practices During Your Personal Injury Case
Even though a privacy setting does not necessarily mean anything, you should still confirm that your social media profiles are private. Some platforms also allow you to prevent people from sharing your content. If you have that option, then you should activate the restriction. You should refrain from commenting on other people’s posts to protect yourself further.
When you consult an injury attorney, you should ask for advice about how to manage your social media presence during your insurance claim or lawsuit. Ideally, you will cease all activity. However, you might continue with some safe activities after obtaining legal advice, such as liking a baby photo or sharing entertainment content unrelated to your situation.
As your case progresses, be on the lookout for new friend requests. Unless you know the person very well, you should decline the connection. An investigator working for the defendant in your case could be trying to access your profile. Do not consider this advice to be driven by paranoia. Mining information from social media has become a common practice in legal cases.
Do Not Delete Your Social Media Content
Due to the threat that social media content could pose to your case, you might think that deleting content would solve the problem. First of all, the act of deleting something does not mean that the information ceases to exist. Most social media companies store the information for a long time and could still have it should a subpoena demand it.
Additionally, your injury attorney will strongly caution you against deleting content. If the act of deletion is uncovered, then your opposition could spin it as an attempt to hide meaningful information. Should your case go to trial, a jury might choose to view this as evidence that you are being deceitful in some way. Although people largely sympathize with people hurt by negligence, their sympathy evaporates if they suspect fraud.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away
Telling you how to avoid social media mistakes during a personal injury case is just one thing that a personal injury lawyer can do for you. Verbal and written communications with an insurance company require great care as well. Insurance adjusters and their lawyers will take advantage of any detail or vague statement to limit your compensation for injuries. For representation from a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas who has recovered millions for victims, choose Moss Berg Injury Lawyers. Please contact our office for a free consultation.
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