What did anyone do before social media? It’s hard to imagine a world without it. Most people think that social media is the best thing since sliced bread, and in some instances, it can be. The problem is, not many people understand that it has not only decreased our privacy, but it can also ruin a personal injury case. Before you get on Facebook and update your status by telling the world what just happened to you, you should think twice about what it can do to your personal injury lawsuit.
The first thing that any personal injury lawyer will tell you is not to talk to anyone about the events of an accident. They advise their clients not to talk to other lawyers, people they don’t know, and even their friends and family. The problem with our society today is that people just can’t help themselves. They think that everything they do should be public record, and that everyone wants to hear about what goes on in their lives. That may or may not be true, but what is true is that social media posts are causing a firestorm in personal injury lawsuits around the nation.
What many people don’t realize is that whatever they say in their social media posts and personal messages can be used against them in a court of law. Not only is this the case for criminal trials, but it also can affect your personal injury case. Sometimes that can work both for and against the claimant, depending on how the conversations and information are used.
The problem arises when you had already talked about an incident on your social media account before you hired an attorney. An example would be if you came home from a car accident and posted that someone had rear-ended you — but thank goodness, you were totally okay and didn’t have any injuries. Or, if someone asked you if the accident was your fault, and you said something along the lines of “I don’t think so”. That can create doubt in a case that would otherwise have been clear-cut. If insurance companies or the defendant’s attorney read into the messages that you send, the emotions that you put into them, and the conclusions that you made, it can make your personal injury suit that much more difficult to try in court.
When you hire a personal injury attorney, they may advise you to immediately delete any posts or conversations you have had about your accident. The problem is that once you have posted something on the internet, it is there forever. There are many platforms where you can’t simply go in and erase things permanently.
Over seventy-five percent of people on the internet engage in at least one form of social media. This can have them uploading pictures, making comments, putting up videos, or even talking about things in their past, such as mental disorders like depression. If you post about previous limitations or injuries that could have caused your accident, or make statements about who is to blame, it could compromise your case.
Insurance companies have become savvy when it comes to personal injury cases, and they invest a lot of money and resources. When a claim is made, the first thing they investigate is any evidence contained on social media pages that would counteract the suit. Unfortunately, in many instances, they find it. By digging into the claimant’s activities, they can put together an entire story and defense to prove that things happened in a specific way. Whether their interpretation is true is not the issue.
Although the law continues to adapt to changing times, including issues surrounding social media and online privacy, it’s very important to proceed with caution. If you’re involved in a personal injury case, make sure that you go back and delete anything that can incriminate you, if possible. This even includes things that aren’t specific, but could be misconstrued. You can never be too careful. If you haven’t said anything, it is best not to. Save the idle chatter for personal conversations, and avoid using any social media when you are involved in a lawsuit. Even if you think you are helping yourself, you may not be doing yourself any favors.