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Social Media Impacts on Personal Injury Cases

By Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD
June 3, 2017
Social Media Impacts on Personal Injury Cases

Social Media Impacts on Personal Injury Cases

By Parag Bhosale

Social media is strictly light entertainment for most people, but it can have a catastrophic impact on a personal injury case. Posting selfies and videos of yourself is a lot of fun… unless you’re involved in a personal injury case as a plaintiff or a witness. Then, it’s another story!

When you have a personal injury lawsuit or claim, the first place an insurance company may go to seek information about you is to your social medial accounts. It’s not unlike an employer Googling a job applicant to find out about their character, or finding out the background about a blind date.

Everyone knows that a lawyer will tell you not to discuss your case with anyone. But if you turn around and take your news to social media, you are telling everyone what your lawyer just told you to keep private! Not convinced that they could find anything bad about you or your claimed injury?  How about these….

1. Evidence of physical ability contrary to claims. If you claim you hurt your back at work and are seeking a settlement in court, but post a video of yourself doing the limbo at your brother’s wedding, this information will easily be found and used against you in court. Even if you don’t post the video yourself, if one of your friends does, and “tags” you, that video is forever linked to your name. The social media impact on your personal injury case can be dire. In this day of cell phones, when it is so easy to post to social media, it is best to take it easy and stay out of the spotlight. This will remove any opportunities for others to sabotage your day in court, or misrepresent what may have been an isolated good day for your injury.

2. Evidence that the physical injury claim is not actually affecting your lifestyle. If your workplace injury keeps you from going to work, be sure to be actually resting at home. When plaintiffs use the time off to go to Home Depot and start a home improvement project, or take a trip around town on their motorcycle, that typically is not what disabled people do. Even if what you are doing is not actually bad for your injury, it will look bad to a judge or juror if caught on film. If your spouse or neighbor snaps a picture or comments on these activities, there is now something admissible in court that can be used against you. So remember, when you are on leave, make sure you are resting and not doing anything over and above what you would usually do, or more importantly, what your DOCTOR told you not to do. One comment on Facebook from the neighbor praising the new flower boxes you just built (when you were supposed to be off of work for your injury) could make the difference between a winning or losing case.

3. Aggression against the insurance company/adjustor. If you normally use your social media profiles to air your grievances against the world, please reconsider doing so against your adversaries in your personal injury case. Your insurance company will make sure the jury sees every four-letter descriptor you use and it will not reflect well on your character. So refrain from trash-talking your opponent on social media. Even though it might feel good to release the frustration, it will not help your case.

It is important to know that while anything you post publicly is accessible to the insurance company, you are not obligated to reveal any more than you have chosen to do publicly. For example, you do not have to accept a friend request from an insurance company employee or private investigator on Facebook. You also do not have to keep your social media profiles public. In fact, you should definitely check the privacy settings on your social media accounts when you have a personal injury case pending.

The main thing to remember is that social media impacts on personal injury cases can be devastating and nearly everything you send through cyberspace in social media and email is discoverable (even if you are a high-ranking political official!) The only guaranteed way to make sure a private message stays private is for the message to be spoken from your mouth to someone else’s ear. That’s the only way you should communicate information about your personal injury case.

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