How Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case
Social media plays a huge role in our daily lives. It allows us to share information and content to people all around the world with the click of a mouse or tap of a phone. In fact, posting and tweeting about our daily experiences is almost second nature. Often we do not stop to think about some of the consequences of the things we share with the world. The same is true for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.
After an automobile accident, slip and fall accident, dog bite attack or other incident, the prospective plaintiff is likely upset, traumatized and emotional. Their natural reaction may be to turn to social media as an outlet to express those feelings. However, a post or update that at the time appears harmless could end up doing significant damage to your case down the road.
For example, lets say you broke your ankle in a car accident and are suing the other driver who hit you. A few months after the accident, you attend a birthday party and take a photo of you and some friends from the waist up smiling and post it online. While you’re racking up “likes”, the insurance company or attorney for the other driver will attempt to use that photo as evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. After all, you were at a party and smiling a few months after the accident, you must be fine, right? Well, what the picture doesn’t show is the bulky cast around your ankle, the crutches you need in order to stand, or that fact that you were sitting at the table in pain while everyone else was dancing or playing games.
Furthermore, when confronted with that photo a year later at your deposition, it can be difficult to remember what stage you were at in your recovery when the photo was taken. While your attorney will try to exclude the photo, arguing that it is out of context and irrelevant, do you really want to leave that decision up to a judge?
Until you speak with an attorney, it is important to think twice before posting the following:
- Photographs: In addition to photographs taken after the accident, photographs taken before the accident, but which are not posted until after can damage your case. The natural assumption is that the photo was taken on the date it was posted online. While that might not be the case, it can be difficult to prove as well as unnecessarily creates one more element to argue over and support. Additionally, most people do not post pictures of themselves in pain, and we are all trained to smile in photographs, even if at the moment we are not really happy or in a good mood. Posting pictures online may convey a message that does not truly reflect your thoughts and feelings when it was taken.
- Status updates: Like photographs, statements made online about the accident or incident can be taken out of context and interpreted in a way that can be harmful to your case. Such posts may also contain admissions that could be fatal to your claim.
- Injuries: Avoid posting information about your injuries as your diagnosis can change over time. Furthermore, you may make a statement that could be interpreted as minimizing your injuries when you really are not. A status update such as “back feeling better today” doesn't mean that you are feeling 100% or even 50%. Further, it doesn't reveal that you may have been in such bad pain the week before that you were unable to get out of bed. Insurance companies and defense attorneys can twist your words into having a meaning that you did not intend.
To steal a line from the Miranda warning in criminal cases: “what you say can be used against you in a court of law.” If you have a potential personal injury case, be careful what information you post online. You should check your privacy settings to make sure you know who can see your content, and avoid adding people that you do not know. It is also important to review posts that others make about you. A post by a family or friend can have the same effect as if you posted it. Personal injury cases are difficult enough on their own; don't let a 140-character statement make it any harder.
If you have been involved in a car accident, slip and fall accident, dog bite attack, or other personal injury claim, contact the Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers today for your free consultation and evaluation of your case.