Throughout your involvement in a lawsuit, social media can have a significant impact regarding whether your case is won or lost. Obviously, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and others, play a significant role in many of our lives. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center states that as of 2018, more than 80% of the U.S. population had a social networking profile (across the globe, worldwide usage has reached almost 2.5 billion). With all this activity and information sharing, it’s important to understand the legal repercussions of social media.
When it comes to the law, social media posts or photographs CAN be used against you as evidence in court. Although many people use social media daily to share thoughts, pictures, and experiences, sharing details of an injury claim can make you vulnerable to exposure. During an injury claim, when details of your personal life are shared via social media platforms, the results are almost always negative.
Often, social media sites are one of the first places defense attorneys look when gathering evidence against a case. For example, you have been involved in a car accident and have claimed serious physical injuries along with pain and suffering. You claim that the car accident has affected your ability to exercise, required you to walk with crutches, and affected your ability to spend time with your daughter. However, you constantly post pictures on Facebook and Instagram of you at the gym exercising, walking and running without crutches, and playing in the park with your daughter. In this instance, your claim would be completely undermined, and you would face extreme difficulty upholding your claims. Additionally, in the same case, if you claim emotional distress, but constantly post about how you are “feeling better” or “finally recovered” this can insinuate that the emotional distress claimed from your accident may be false and will impact how much compensation you receive as damages.
Social media can not only damage your case, it can also be used to discredit the credibility of a witness. For example, if one of your witnesses posts a comment on social media inconsistent with statements made at the present time, their credibility can be destroyed.
ASSUME SOMEONE IS ALWAYS WATCHING
A 2012 case involving a personal injury claim made by one of our previous clients proves that social media has the potential to hinder the possibility of positive outcomes in a personal injury case.
As our client was walking home one evening, he was struck by a drunk driver and suffered severe chronic back and leg pain. Our client claimed, that due to the injuries sustained, he was confined to his home and his enjoyment of life significantly decreased. However, when the defense attorneys investigated our client’s social media pages, they found Facebook and Instagram photos of him exercising at the gym, going out with friends, playing in recreational football games, and more.
As a result, because our client claimed that he continued to suffer an excruciating debilitating amount of pain, but his social media portrayed conflicting evidence, his case was undermined, and it was difficult to argue his entitlement to compensation for the full amount of damages. As you can see, social media can be a great source of evidence for defendants wanting to prove the damages claimed aren’t nearly as severe as the claimant has alleged.
When someone files a personal injury claim, it’s because they have suffered a great deal of physical harm and are seeking compensation for expenses associated with the injury, including medical bills and potentially damages for pain and suffering. The defendant’s job is to procure evidence that suggests the opposite.
Furthermore, people that make a claim for emotional distress that accompanies their physical injuries, risk exposing themselves to claims by the defense attorneys disproving their claims with any compromising pictures of the claimant acting or appearing to act in any way contradictory to their claim.
Therefore, it’s important to avoid posting anything to social media platforms during your lawsuit as well as keeping all your accounts set on private. However, keep in mind that even if your profile is kept private, your posts, pictures, and content are still retrievable and can be used as viable evidence at trial. With that in mind, if you still decide to remain active on social media, it’s important to use cautious judgment about what you post during your lawsuit and to understand the impact social media may have on your case. Anything you decide to post after your accident is at your own peril.
If you have any questions about your rights regarding any potential or current injury claim, please contact us immediately.