Much of our lives, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, are shared on social media.
It’s only natural that after an accident, you might think about posting what happened to share with your friends and family.
However, doing so could hurt your personal injury case and lead to you not getting the compensation that you need.
How can a story or a photo online hurt your case?
Social media can be used as evidence, and it’s discoverable. What exactly can be found and how it can hurt your case is what we’re here to help with.
Can Social Media Be Used as Evidence?
According to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, adults in the U.S. use YouTube (73%) and Facebook (69%) the most of any other social media platform.
That’s a lot of people using social media to connect with friends and family. That means there’s a high probability that your social media can also be used against you during legal proceedings.
Any verbal, electronic or documented account of your accident, injury, or recovery could be admissible so it’s important that you either don’t share it or that you are very careful to ensure that what you say and write about your accident and injury is carefully worded, accurate, and consistent with all other accounts and documents.
Whether you delete it or not, things on the internet can be found through archives or other means if you know where to look.
When in doubt, do not post it!
An attorney contacted early on can help you make certain the information you give about your situation is consistent and accurate.
Examples of Social Media Evidence That Might Be Used Against You
If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you might want to tell people that on social media. You want to make clear that you didn’t cause this and you’re upset about it.
You might include some choice words about the defendant as well.
However, this is a great way to get yourself in big trouble.
Whether or not you believe you know who caused an accident, your attorney can advise you on whether you might be admitting fault by posting your version of events.
People also like to share what happened with others through social media messenger apps. Unfortunately, those messages can also be used as social media evidence against you.
Just because you think you have your bases covered by not posting specifically about the accident, doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear.
In a recent case, Largent v. Reed, the plaintiff posted photos of her daily life online. The defendants latched onto this to show that she was not in the severe mental and physical pain that she claimed she was.
If it’s not related to the accident, it doesn’t mean that it won’t come back to bite you during an investigation.
What CAN You Post on Social Media During The Process?
While we can’t tell you not to post on social media, it’s our strong recommendation that you try to keep any posting to a bare minimum.
Don’t talk about the daily details of your life, post pictures of what you’re doing, or let friends tag you in photos or posts.
You are trying to build the best case for yourself, and the other side is going to do whatever they can to make sure that they win.
This includes using anything you put out on social media.
How to Maintain Your Privacy During a Case
So, how do you maintain your privacy when it seems like anything you say or do can be used against you?
Here are a few thoughts:
1. A common mistake many people make is to share details about the accident with friends, family, the other side’s insurance company, and on social media.
Verbally telling friends and family about an accident is fine but remember that they could be called into court to testify about what you said and how it may differ from other statements you made.
2. Make sure that if you post, you are clear about what you should and should not be saying. Consult with your lawyer to get further insight.
When in doubt, don’t post.
3. You are allowed to adjust the privacy settings on your social media.
It’s best to set everything to private (not public) so that you don’t run the risk of just anyone seeing everything that you post online. Additionally, make sure to request to approve photos that your friends tag you in or posts to your wall.
Keep in mind that it is possible for evidence from your phone, including text messages, posts to social media accounts, photographs, and videos to be subpoenaed, which would require you to produce this information if so ordered by the courts and then that information could be used as evidence in your case.
4. Use a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. It allows you to keep your online activities protected. Government agencies use VPNs to make sure their information is secure.
However, you don’t have to be high tech to use one. Your antivirus software probably offers a VPN add-on option.
5. Don’t click on suspicious links. Hackers gain access to your computer when you click on suspicious links online and in your email inbox. If it seems strange, out of character, or too good to be true, it probably is.
While you don’t need to worry about this for your personal injury case, it’s good practice to keep your computer safe from prying eyes.
Some Last Words: Don’t Delete Your Content
If the other side finds something on your social media profiles, don’t try to delete it. It’s best to be forthcoming about what you’ve already posted and try not to hide anything from the proceedings.
Additionally, you could get in serious trouble with the courts for destroying evidence. Evidence found on social media is treated in the same way as any other evidence.
As mentioned above, remember that deleted content is probably never going to be deleted. Someone, somewhere can likely find the post or photo that you deleted through archives or other methods. Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever.
Need Help Navigating Social Media?
All of this can get really complicated really fast. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s time to find a personal injury attorney who can help you with your case.
At VanDerGinst Law, we have over 30 years of experience with personal injury. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, and investigators is ready and honored to help you during this difficult time.
Contact us at 800-797-5391 for a free consultation and case review.
We’d be honored to help.
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The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.