How Social Media Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim
Today, almost everyone has social media. According to Pew Research, 69% of Adult Americans had at least one social media account in 2018. We use social media to stay in contact, update our friends, and build networks. What did your sister and her family do last Tuesday? What is the status of a loved one who is in the hospital? We look to social media for these answers. These seemingly harmless posts, however, can cause huge problems in your personal injury claim.
How can something you rely on every day affect your personal injury case?
First, it is never a good idea to post about potential or ongoing litigation. When you do so, you not only could hurt your case, but potentially expose yourself to a lawsuit by the opposing party. Additionally, you could inadvertently post something that conflicts with statements you gave to someone else.
Things you should never post about:
- Your treatment or recovery
- The details of the incident
- Evidence of the incident (photos, videos, etc.)
- Admissions of faults (regrets or apologies)
- Updates on things you’ve done since the incident
- Any photographs or videos of you since the incident
Bottom line: If you are ever tempted to post personal information, the best advice is don’t—or at least talk to your attorney first.
Your Friends and Family Can Affect Your PI Claim
We know that your friends and family have no ill intentions when it comes to posting about you, and usually it is harmless, but they can seriously hurt your claim as well. Simple posts like, “Had so much fun kayaking the Trinity with Sally this weekend,” can indicate a certain level of activity that may lead someone to conclude that your injuries are not as serious as you claim—even if you were just sitting in the kayak or merely taking photos. Your friends and family can hurt your claim if they post about the company or parties they believe are at fault, your expectation of damages, or the expectations of your recovery. These posts are public information and will be used against you by those who oppose your claim. If you are considering filing a personal injury claim, make sure you tell your friends and loved ones that you appreciate their support, but ask them to not post anything about you or your claim on social media.
How Serious is The Harm Caused by Social Media?
Insurance companies and defense attorneys want to minimize liability for your injuries as much as possible, because doing so means they will have to pay you less money. One of the easiest ways to limit liability is to find contradictory information about you, and the first place they will look is your social media accounts. Statements that could hurt your claim can be as innocent as: “I’m doing alright,” “The family is out bowling tonight,” or “I totaled my car” – all of which could reduce their liability and your settlement.
Don’t be misled by the privacy settings on your social media, because the settings of your friends who comment on or share your posts may not be as private. As soon as you post anything, other people have access to it. Even if the other side can’t find information on social media, they can subpoena you for all of your social media content. Again, the best advice is just don’t post.
How we can help
If you have been injured and want to know if you have a claim for compensation, you should contact a board-certified DFW personal injury attorney. While developing your case, your attorney can provide you with guidance, including social media navigation. This guidance can be crucial to a successful outcome.