We live in a social world. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram help us connect with friends and family; it also helps us stay in touch. Yet, once you are involved in a personal injury claim, business dispute, or any litigation, you should be concerned of your use of any and all social media platforms.
QUICK TIPS AND PITFALLS TO AVOID:
MAKE ACCOUNTS PRIVATE
BE SELECTIVE ABOUT YOUR POSTS
DON'T ACCEPT OR TALK TO STRANGERS
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Injured parties pursuing personal injury claims seek damages for their medical expenses associated with their injury, and often seek damages for pain and suffering related to their injury. Evidence is introduced in the form of medical records, photographs, and testimony from doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, friends, and family to corroborate the extent of the injury claims.
Posts, pictures, or videos from social media may be used as evidence by the insurance company to discredit a plaintiff’s claim of injuries and suffering. Posts can and will be used against you! Additionally, insurance companies may attempt to disprove a claim of emotional distress with posts that showing the plaintiff smiling and happy. Lastly, negative posts from the plaintiff about the defendant may also be used to show that the motivation of plaintiff’s suit stemmed from revenge or greed instead of their injury. Many plaintiffs have lost their personal injury cases because of their own social media posts.
The insurance company may attempt to limit or avoid liability by minimizing the plaintiffs’ injuries and the related claims for pain and suffering. In doing so, they might interview employers, family, friends, and neighbors. Insurance companies used to hire private investigators to sleuth on plaintiffs hoping to catch a plaintiff doing some activity that may cut against his or her injury claims. These include seemingly normal activities such as mowing the lawn, bowling, or having a fun night out. Today, social media makes this work much easier for the insurance companies.
Remember that anything you post online can be used against you in court! This also applies to posts about you and including you. What may seem as a normal post can be extremely damaging to your personal injury case. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that your social media activity does not come back to haunt you in your case:
Do not accept friend requests from strangers or people that you may not know;
Politely ask your friends to refrain from including you in their posts;
Do not post anything that you would not want to be shown to a jury in court;
Set your privacy settings to private or to maximum privacy;
Suspend your accounts; and
If you have posted something related to your case, do not delete it as that may lead to problems with spoliation in the future.