Social media is and will continue to be an integral piece of people's lives. We use it to stay connected with friends and family, get news updates, and share what’s going on in our lives. But if you have been hurt and are considering filing a personal injury case, what you post on Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok could come back to haunt you. Find out what you can do to protect yourself, and your case.
Everything in our modern lives gets put on display on social media. But you may not realize that what you post on Facebook, Instagram, or even LinkedIn could directly affect your personal injury lawsuit and your ability to collect compensation for lost wages, disability, or pain and suffering.
The problem with posting all the usual photos, emojis and check-ins is that it creates a public account of your health and well-being day by day. Many of the same things we post every day to show we are living our best lives can be used against you in your personal injury lawsuit. For example:
All of this ignores the fact that most users curate their social media feeds, only posting when things are going well, cropping out signs of struggle, and engaging more on their good days. But when it comes time to convince a jury, these posts, images, and emojis can be taken out of context and used by the defense.
But what if you’ve got your security set to friends-only or high privacy? You may think that will protect you, but it won’t. Social media is public record. Unfortunately, the courts have said that you have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in items posted to social media platforms.
Even if your privacy settings are locked down, the insurance company or the at-fault driver’s attorney can sometimes hire private investigators to follow your accounts and look for signs you may not be as hurt as you say you are. It used to be that personal injury plaintiffs had to watch out for private investigators parked near their home or following their cars. Now, those same investigators are camped out online, Facebook-stalking you and following your every tweet, TikTok video, and LinkedIn update.
When they find something, they can file subpoenas to get the records of everything you have put online since the accident. While you are just trying to heal and get back to normal as quickly as possible, your insurance company or the defendants in your lawsuit are gathering proof that things are not as you say.
The best way to keep social media from affecting your personal injury case is to go dark. Stop posting right after the accident and don’t start again until the case is over. You may even want to archive or delete your account. However, not everyone can disconnect from social media entirely. Here are 5 things to avoid if you need to be online for work, are using those accounts to maintain your connection while you are house-bound, or simply can’t resist the urge to scroll.
If you can’t cut out social media entirely, you should at least lock down your security settings. Make sure your default posting setting on Facebook is “Friends Only” and that you have to approve any tags or mentions before they go public.
What you say to your lawyer and your lawyer says to you is confidential, until you share it with someone. If you discuss what your lawyer said about your case online you can assume what was once private is now being used against you by the other side.
For many, a common interest or even living in the same city may be reason enough to accept a request to connect or become social media “friends.” Private investigators know this. They can and do create fake accounts to follow the people they have been hired to investigate. Do not accept any new followers or friends while your case is pending. They may not be who they seem to be.
We all try to look our best for selfies. But when you have an active personal injury case, looking your best can work against proving what it feels like when you are at your worst. Yes, you will likely have good days and bad days during your recovery. And yes, it will be tempting to show off when you are feeling more like yourself. Resist the temptation, or that one good day may be the picture the defense uses to undercut your claims about your ongoing injury.
You also shouldn’t complain about your medical situation online. You may not see the difference between the terms your doctor used and the ones you shared, but the insurance company’s medical expert will. It is a good idea for anyone -- personal injury case or not -- to avoid discussing their health online. But when your compensation depends on showing your medical expenses, you don’t want to give them any leverage to claim you are exaggerating the truth.
At The Lebedevitch Law Firm, our Connecticut personal injury attorneys have decades of experience helping personal injury victims recover for their injuries. We know the tactics used by insurance companies and defense attorneys. We will help you make a plan for social media use during your personal injury case and be prepared to fight against anything that might make it harder to prove your case. Contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.