People have lost their job because of a single Facebook post. Schools have been shut down by a Tweet. And your personal injury case can be derailed by what you post on social media.
There are many examples of claimants seeking damages in a personal injury case only to have social media be their worst witness. In one case, the claim was for damages due to chronic pain, loss of mobility, and an inability to enjoy physical activities such as hiking. But when the defense attorney produced an Instagram picture of the claimant hiking after the case was filed, the judge ruled in favor of the insurance company. No compensation was awarded.
Here’s how you can protect your personal injury claim from being harmed by social media.
1. DON’T POST WHILE YOUR CASE IS OPEN
This best social media policy during a personal injury case is not to post at all. Even a post that seems unrelated could run counter to your claim. Shelf life posts that expire such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories can still be used. These so-called temporary posts are not as fleeting as they seem and can be recorded for later playback.
Remember, everything on social media is considered public and can sometimes be admissible in court. Take a vacation from social media during your case. You may find it refreshing.
2. SET ACCOUNTS TO PRIVATE
In some cases, it may be difficult to refrain from social media during a personal injury case, especially one that goes to trial. For example, you have a business that relies on a Facebook page for marketing or communication. If so, set all personal accounts to private for the duration of your case. Social media forums have a different procedure for walling off your online persona. And they are constantly changing privacy policies. So check with your preferred favorite online hangouts on how to make your accounts private.
3. BE CAREFUL OF TAGGING
Even if you exercise social media discipline during your personal injury case, your friends and family will continue posting. It is important to ask them to not tag you. A tagged picture of you jumping in the pool posted on your cousin’s Facebook page could be used as evidence. You will have to be proactive about asking not to be included and tagged as this is second nature to social media practitioners.
4. ACCEPT NO NEW FRIEND REQUESTS
One way big insurance company attorneys sidestep privacy settings is by sending friend requests. The resources for these companies run deep and they often hire trolls to monitor accounts as well as friends and family. So while in litigation, do not accept any new online friends requests unless you are absolutely certain who they are.
5. POSTS THAT SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM
If social media can be used against you, can it help bolster your personal injury case? This depends on your case and something you will have to decide with your attorney. But posting things that align with your claim may help ward off the trolls. For example, if your claim includes loss of mobility, you may consider a post about missing a hiking event due to an injury. Or re-post an old picture of you engaging in a physical activity making sure to note the date is before your accident. Include comments about how your injury has robbed you from enjoying this activity. Most importantly, always be truthful when communicating via social media.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, and all other online social media can harm your personal injury case if you are careless about what you post until your claim is settled. Use these tips to minimize the damage so you can win the claim you deserve.