Social media is an almost unavoidable aspect of life in the digital age, as evidenced by the 3.6 billion people worldwide that subscribe to the various platforms and websites. As a result, many of us are accustomed to sharing nearly every occurrence in our daily lives – both significant and insignificant. Many times, these photos, videos, and personal statements can be a positive way to reflect on life.
However, if you are currently involved in a personal injury lawsuit, there can be another, more nefarious side of social media. While your personal injury case is, in fact, a significant event in your life, you should proceed with extreme caution when posting on social media about the case. In addition, even unrelated posts have the potential to affect your case, and it is important to perform your due diligence regarding each and every piece of information you choose to make public during this time.
How Social Media Can Affect Your Case
Before and during the proceedings, a personal injury case, the things you say and do are under an intense amount of scrutiny. Of course, the vast majority of people are not falsifying their injuries or engaging in attempts to make their injuries appear more severe than they are. However, it is the opposing attorney’s responsibility to call these elements of your case into question. If you continue to post on social media, you are essentially handing the defendant information that may be used to discredit you.
When you file a personal injury claim, most things you say outside of court are considered hearsay and inadmissible in court. However, public statements like those made on social media are routinely admitted into court when they come from those who are a party to the case. As a result, social media posts by you, your family, and your friends with knowledge of your case have the potential to negatively affect your case.
These effects occur in three major forms:
- You may inadvertently contradict your testimony. Obviously, it is important to always be truthful when describing your injuries and the events that took place leading up to the injury. However, it is easier than you might think to misremember the events, post something that may be construed as contradictory, or both. For example, if you stated your slip and fall accident occurred in the early afternoon, but your social media check-in shows you were at a concert from noon to four, it could be trouble for your case. An opposing attorney can claim that you are unreliable and may be fabricating a portion of the events at hand.
- You may inadvertently call the extent of your injuries into question. Here, too, it is essential to always be truthful when describing your injuries. The extent to which they have affected your daily life. Still, even seemingly innocuous posts can serve to discredit your injuries. For example, if you’ve claimed your back injury prevents you from sitting without pain, but your Facebook timeline shows you attended a yoga session with a friend – even if you did not participate – you have just given the opposing attorney cause to discredit your statement regarding your injuries.
- You may diminish your pain and suffering. Unlike the traditional damages assigned during a personal injury lawsuit, such as missed wages and medical bills, pain and suffering are highly subjective. Worse, most of us utilize social media as a way of putting our “best face forward” and avoid posting photos where we are in pain or not doing well. Many attorneys access social media as a way to attempt to show that a plaintiff is not experiencing much pain or anguish, including smiling photos, videos of participation in fun activities, or even smiling emoji reactions.
How Should You Handle Social Media?
If you have recently filed a personal injury claim, make every effort possible to avoid allowing your social media to negatively affect your claim. Start with these quick steps:
- Make your profile(s) as private as possible.
- Refrain from posting about your injuries or your case, including frustrations with the legal system, insurance findings, or details of your treatment.
- Exercise caution when posting photos, videos, or check-ins that may contradict your claim.
- Consider avoiding social media entirely while your case is ongoing.
While the above steps may seem like overkill, it is better to be safe now than regret a careless social media post that may reduce or negate your personal injury claim or lengthen the legal proceedings with additional requests for social media records.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is the most important step to ensuring you are not harming your own case. Your attorney will consult with you at each stage of the case and advise you regarding how to handle your social media accounts. To request a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of Black & DePaoli today.