Social media is a great way to share what is going on in your life with friends and family; however, if you are pursuing a personal injury claim, be aware that anything you post, whether related to the case or not, can be used against you in court.
Just as your attorney will aggressively fight to win your case, opposing counsel will do whatever they can to win on their client’s behalf. This includes capturing posts and comments from your Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, YouTube, and other social media platforms, regardless of privacy settings, to disprove your claim. Posting anything online about your accident or case is a big no-no, but even innocuous comments like “doctor says I’m good as new” or “never felt better” can have a negative impact.
The following are tips on how to avoid providing the defense with the ability to use your own actions and words against you:
- Be sure all your accounts are set to private, and all posts are set to “friends.” While this may not necessarily prevent opposing counsel from accessing the information, it will make the process more difficult.
- Be cautious of accepting new “friends,” especially if you do not know them. The defense may try to gain access to your account if they do not have sufficient cause to obtain a subpoena.
- Do not post anything related to your case, such as when or where the accident happened, who was at fault, the status of your injuries, or damage to property. Provide updates in person or over the phone.
- Ask friends and family to refrain from posts about your injuries and case as well
- If you or someone else does inadvertently post something related to your injuries or case, do not go back in and delete it. This will appear as if you are trying to hide evidence, and the consequences can be worse than having the actual post discovered.
- Do not visit the social media sites or communicate with the defending party or their counsel. Leave that to your attorney.
- Refrain from posting “check-ins,” and these may be evidence that your injuries are not as serious as you claim. For example, if you claim to have suffered a shoulder injury, and you checked-in at the bowling alley, opposing counsel may use this to disprove your claim…even if you did not bowl.
- Do not post photos or videos, especially of your injuries or of any activities you participate in. Posting a video of you dancing when your personal injury claim states a neck injury will be very damaging to your case.
- Do not post rants about your doctors, attorneys, the defendant, or anyone else involved in your case. If you have an issue, discuss it with your attorney.
- Do not post about your settlement or any other outcome of your case. You could be violating confidentiality clauses or hurting future appeals.
- Be open and honest with your attorney. If you think you or someone else may have posted something that could hurt your case, make your attorney aware so s/he can be prepared rather than blindsided.
- If you cannot fight the urge to get on social media, limit usage to simply reading or liking others’ posts.
Following these tips will minimize the risk of having information from social media used against you. If you have any concerns regarding how social media activity may impact your case, discuss them with your attorney.