Most Americans use some type of social media platform these days, with Facebook being the most popular. Almost three out of every four American adults are on Facebook, and most of them access it on a daily basis. Other popular social media apps include Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.
We use social media to stay connected with our family and friends, catch up with people we have not seen for a while, and keep up to date on what those in our network are doing. Many of us also like to post status updates, often with pictures that show everyone what we are up to.
To most people, social media is harmless fun. It can become addicting and consume far too much of our time, but other than that, people do not see much downside in using these platforms.
Under most circumstances, this assessment is generally pretty accurate. But when you are involved in a legal case, it is a totally different story. Your social media activity is available for everyone in your network to see, and there is no expectation of privacy, even for direct messages that you send to someone individually or in a group chat.
How Social Media can Adversely Impact your Personal Injury Case
Here is an example of how your social media activity could hurt your personal injury case. Let’s say you are injured in a car crash. Your back and neck are hurt pretty badly, and it looks like you will have to miss work for a while. You decide to file an accident injury claim against the at fault driver for not only direct monetary losses such as medical bills and lost wages, but also for the pain-and-suffering and emotional distress you are forced to endure.
The physical and emotional pain you are going through is real, but you decide (like many others in this situation do) not to let it bring you down, and to maintain a good attitude as you work toward recovery. You want your family and friends to be informed on how you are doing and not to worry about you, and your status updates reflect your positive outlook. As a result, your social media posts are focused on how everything is going to be okay, you are going to get through this, and you are going to be back to work as soon as possible.
Because your social media posts put the best possible spin on your situation, they might tend to contradict the claims physical and emotional pain you are making to the insurance company. And if the insurance company were to get a hold of these posts, they could use them to say that your injuries are not as serious as you are alleging. This situation could be made even worse if you post photos enjoying a relaxing vacation or a night out with your family or something similar while this is going on.
Strict Privacy Settings Might Not Protect You
You might think that you are immune from these warnings about social media because you use the strictest privacy protections to make sure your posts are only being seen by those closest to you. This may be true, but you shouldn’t count on it.
Insurance companies spend a lot of money investigating claimants. Their investigators are very tech savvy, and they know a lot of tricks that can get them into your inner circle. But even if that does not happen, social media activity is discoverable in a legal case, meaning that it could be subpoenaed if it ever came to that.
How Should I Handle my Social Media Accounts during my Personal Injury Case?
The very best practice for someone who is in the middle of a personal injury claim is to suspend social media activity altogether. But if you cannot totally stay off of social media, at the very least, keep your activity to a bare minimum and make sure you thoroughly review any content that you are thinking about posting.
Do not post anything at all about your case and adjust your settings to ensure that you are not tagged in other peoples’ posts. Do not accept any new friend or connection requests while your case is ongoing. And always be sure to rely heavily on the advice of your attorney regarding social media activity and all other aspects of your case.