Many people today use social media platforms to catch up on news and connect with friends and family. When you post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, or any social media platform while a personal injury claim is in progress, that information may become accessible to the other side. Attorneys for the defendant will be looking for any information that could cast doubt on the cause or severity of your injuries, your credibility, and the validity of your case.
How Could You Hurt Your Case by Posting on Social Media?
Anything you post on social media provides insight into your private life and has the potential to contradict your claim and damage your case. For example:
- If you are claiming incapacitating injuries, videos or pictures that show you participating in some physical activity, such as dancing, bowling, or playing softball, could harm your credibility.
- Noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life are part of most personal injury claims. Pictures of you smiling or looking happy posted on social media could be used by the other side to minimize your suffering.
- Photos that show you consuming alcohol or taken while you were driving could be used to help create the impression that you engage in dangerous driving behavior and are partly at fault for the crash.
- Social media posts about your job or working from home could hurt your claim for lost wages or loss of earning capacity.
- If you post about your plans for future income, such as a vacation or a new car, it could also hurt your case.
How Do Defense Attorneys Use Injury Victims’ Social Media Posts?
Social media accounts can be a rich source of evidence for defense attorneys. They can use information gleaned from your posts to attack your credibility, deny the cause of your injuries, and reduce the value of the damages you are able to recover. Defense attorneys can also discover and use comments, hashtags, tags, and mentions of friends and family against you.
How Can the Other Side Gain Access to Your Social Media Posts?
Even if you have private or protected profiles, opposing counsel can request printouts of your social media accounts during the discovery process (the phase of a civil lawsuit in which the parties are required to exchange information relevant to the case). Defendants have a legal right to seek information during discovery, including private information. If you do not want to produce your social media accounts, the lawyer for the defense may petition the court to issue a subpoena – a court order that requires you to provide that information.
What Is the Risk of Deleting Social Media Posts?
You should not delete any social media posts while your case is in progress, even if you believe they could hurt your claim. Deleting posts or information could be construed as spoliation – altering or destroying evidence relevant to litigation. In any case, even permanently deleted posts may be recoverable for use by the other side.
How Should You Navigate Social Media During a Personal Injury Claim?
The best practice is to avoid social media altogether while your personal injury claim is pending and remind your friends and family to leave you alone on social media. Change any public profiles to private settings. Do not delete profiles entirely, as this could arouse suspicion and could be deemed spoliation of evidence by the court. Continue monitoring your accounts throughout the case to make sure friends and family do not mention you in public posts.
For dedicated advocacy in personal injury matters, contact Allen Law at (843) 882-5005. Attorney Allen is a former insurance defense lawyer with extensive experience on both sides of the courtroom.