In an age where everyone is glued to their smartphones and posting on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, people often forget that what you put out into the world stays there forever. It’s inevitable that certain posts will be taken out of context. But if you’ve been in an accident and have a pending personal injury case, your own social media posts can kill your case.
Many injury claimants fail to understand that when they bring a claim against an insurance company, that company will do everything to make even the most honest person look bad. That includes weaponizing their social media posts. In this article, we will explore the common pitfalls and traps with posting on social media after an accident. We will also shed light on how to navigate this minefield.
Make no mistake about it. Anything you post on social media that is relevant to your case can and will be used against you. The relevance standard for admitting evidence in court is fairly lenient. As long as the evidence tends to make an important fact more or less probable, it will be admissible. For example, if you are claiming a hand or wrist injury as a result of a car accident, a photo of you doing something as benign as holding a drink can be introduced into court to show that you have sufficient grip strength.
If you’ve been in an accident, assume that the insurance company has several people trolling your social media accounts to find anything incriminating they can use against you. You should always maintain the highest privacy settings on social media accounts. But even if your account is private, the insurance company may still be able to find pictures of you if they were posted by a friend or family member whose account is public.
For this reason, you should be very careful about who is taking pictures of you and make sure they have private social media settings. You might also consider telling your friends and loved ones that you have an important court case pending, and because you don’t want any photos taken out of context, they should refrain from posting pictures of you or tagging you.
Of course, if someone you don’t know sends you a friend request, do NOT accept it. The request could very well be an insurance company investigator looking to destroy your case.
Insurance companies, their investigators, and their lawyers are increasingly turning to social media to find evidence to dispute or devalue personal injury claims. Here are some common tactics they employ:
Insurance adjusters may monitor your social media profiles to gather evidence that contradicts your injury claims. For example, if you claim that a severe back injury prevents you from lifting heavy objects, but your Facebook page shows you lifting weights at the gym, it can be used to cast doubt on the severity of your injuries.
Anything you post on social media can potentially be used as evidence. Even seemingly harmless posts or photos can be taken out of context and used against you. For instance, if you share a picture of yourself smiling at a social gathering, the insurance defense lawyer might use it to argue that you are not as injured or in as much pain as you claim. This kind of tactic is sly and deceptive. We all know that people try to broadcast their “best life” to the world when they can be hiding serious pain in reality. But you never know how a jury will interpret a picture of you smiling out and about.
Many social media platforms allow users to “check in” at various locations. Insurance companies may use this data to determine your whereabouts and activities. If you check in at a hiking trail while claiming to be unable to walk without pain, it could be used to undermine your credibility.
During the life of your personal injury case, consider limiting your social media activity. You should definitely avoid posting about your injuries, your case, or anything related to your accident. Even the most well-intentioned updates can be taken out of context. When in doubt, leave it out.
While privacy settings are not foolproof, they can provide some level of protection. Review your privacy settings and restrict who can see your posts, especially if you have pending legal matters.
Refrain from discussing your personal injury case on social media. Avoid sharing details about settlements, negotiations, or any information related to your lawsuit. Your statements are admissible under the rules of evidence as a “statement of a party opponent”, and they will come into court. Your case is personal and confidential. It is not something to blog about or otherwise share with the public.
Even if you limit your own posts, friends and acquaintances may tag you in their photos or posts. Regularly monitor your tags and mentions to ensure they do not contain potentially damaging information.
Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about your social media activity. They can provide guidance on what is safe to post and what should be avoided to protect your case.
If you have already posted something incriminating and the other side’s lawyer has asked for it, you should not delete or “scrub” your social media pages. Destroying relevant evidence can land you in hot water in court, and it can badly hurt your case.
To protect your case, it’s crucial to be cautious about what you post and to understand the potential risks involved. By following the tips outlined in this article and seeking guidance from your personal injury attorney, you can protect your legal interests during the recovery process. Remember, it’s essential to prioritize the protection of your personal injury case. This is your health and your life.
If you have more questions about social media usage and personal injury cases, please contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys so that we may assist you.