Over the last 20 years, social media has become so pervasive in our lives that it is rare to meet someone who does not post on various social media platforms. The popularity of social media is understandable, given its addictive nature and the ability to stay in touch with people you probably would have lost touch with 20 years ago.
Overall, the benefits of social media sites like Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and SnapChat far outweigh the negatives – but there definitely are negatives. When it comes to personal injury cases, there are things that you need to understand and be careful of when using social media.
Negative Effects of Social Media on a Personal Injury Case
Any experienced personal injury lawyer will warn you about the potential dangers of posting on social media when you have an active personal injury case. This applies to every kind of personal injury case: car and truck accidents, slip and falls, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, defective products, and medical malpractice, among others. The information you post on social media can be seen publicly by anyone who is looking, so it is dangerous to post when there is a defendant and their attorney looking for information to use against you.
Similarly, insurance companies have small armies of adjusters, investigators, and attorneys who are all trying to make sure you receive little or no compensation for your injuries. This includes poking into your private life online and making a record of what you have posted on social media.
Privacy Settings Aren’t Foolproof
There is a lot of information that can be gleaned from reading someone’s social media posts. Most people, when they sign up for the various social media platforms, do not set their privacy options to the most secure. Often, these options can be somewhat complicated, so even if you think your posts are private, they may not be. Even if you have your privacy settings set to where only your friends can see your posts, it still may open you up to spying eyes.
Private investigators have been known to pose as other individuals and send friend requests to gain access to your posts. Regardless of your privacy settings, insurance defense attorneys routinely request information on the plaintiff’s social media posts and subpoena the information. Courts have become more and more likely to grant those requests over the last several years. The safest course of action is to not post anything about your activities online, just to be safe.
What if My Posts Are About Simple Things?
Even posts about simple, unimportant things can come back to haunt you in a personal injury case. For example, let’s say that you have suffered a serious injury in a car accident that has prevented you from working. Therefore, wage losses are part of the damages you are seeking in the lawsuit. And let’s say that you write something on Facebook about working in your garden for a few hours and posting pictures of some vegetables you grew. Now, most people would say that this is a normal post and is very innocent. But a crafty insurance defense lawyer can take this information and make it seem like you are faking your disability and must not be injured that seriously. “How can someone do heavy physical labor in their garden for several hours but claim they can’t work?” the defense attorney will argue.
Another area where people get into trouble is “checking in” at places where they visit. If an injured plaintiff is claiming that they have lost most of life’s pleasures and can rarely go out and enjoy themselves, that’s a pretty horrible state to be in and it is quite sympathetic. But then it comes into evidence that the plaintiff checks into their favorite restaurant every week and checks into the all-inclusive resort in Mexico they’re staying at for 10 days. It is posts like these that can get a plaintiff into trouble.
The Safe Post Is No Post
The best course of action when you have an active and ongoing personal injury case is to not post anything once you have been injured. Don’t mention any medical treatment, activities, or anything about what you can and cannot do. Don’t post any pictures of events you have attended or family affairs or anything like that. This also goes to sending messages to friends about the status of your condition and what activities you are engaging in. It is possible the defense attorneys can get access to those messages if they are sent through social media sites, as opposed to private email or private texts.
The bottom line is that if you have a question about whether you should post something, talk to your personal injury lawyer first and get their opinion about what to do.
Florida Personal Injury Attorneys
Social media has various benefits but saying the wrong things online during your lawsuit could be a huge mistake. To avoid this, simply refrain from making any post that might be deemed inappropriate or which possibly calls into question the nature of your injuries. Ideally, talk to your personal injury attorney before posting anything.
To learn more about how to protect your personal injury case, reach out to The Watson Firm, PLLC by calling (850) 607-2929 or by contacting us online.