Can Social Media Negatively Impact Your Case?
Social media can do more damage to a case than you think. It is more than just a social platform among friends or family members. The defense could use social media accounts as evidence during court cases. Social media could have the power to change your personal injury case’s outcome. Misusing social media, such as by posting the wrong thing at the wrong time, could reduce your chances of a positive result. It is best to stay off of social media entirely while your case is ongoing.
Social Media Activity as Proof of a State of Mind
During a personal injury case, your social media activity could play a role in how a judge or jury perceives you. Your attorney will most likely strive for pain and suffering damages connected to your accident. To obtain these damages, your lawyer will need to prove that you experienced physical pain and emotional suffering because of the accident or injury. If you post to your social media accounts with smiley faces and emojis, the defendant could use this against you to argue that your accident must not have put too great an emotional toll on you if you were still posting like usual.
Even if you do not post on social media, other people posting on your page, tagging you in posts or even just friending/following you could impact your claim. If you are claiming that your serious injury confined you to your house, where you experienced depression and loneliness, for instance, the defense could use your Facebook page with thousands of friends as proof that you were not as lonely or isolated as you claim. The same is true for posts that show your location. These could prove that you did not spend the last few months entirely at home.
Activities Discrediting Your Injury Claim
Another common issue associated with social media and a personal injury claim is the claimant unintentionally ruining his or her credibility. Posting photos or activities during an ongoing injury claim could provide evidence that your injuries are not as serious as you claim they are – or that you are not actually injured at all. If you bring a claim for a knee injury, for example, then post a photo of you on a hike, the defendant could use this to discredit you as a plaintiff. Social media activity that goes against your alleged injuries or damages could show a jury you are an untrustworthy plaintiff. This could significantly hurt your claim.
Photos Showing Newly Acquired Assets
One argument your lawyer might be making on your behalf is that the accident or injury put you under financial strain. Posting photos of your home, vehicle, boat, vacations, new clothes or any other assets (especially those newly acquired) could discredit this argument. Social media proof that you are not in financial straits because of the accident could reduce your recovery award by showing a jury you are not under as much emotional stress as your lawyer would have them believe.
Messages directly going against your allegations during an injury claim, such as to the circumstances of the accident or severity of your injuries, could be something the defense uses against you. Even private messages are not private in the justice system. A lawyer can access them with a subpoena if he or she believes they are relevant to the case. Deleting posts or messages will not protect you; investigators can pull up deleted accounts and content. The best way to avoid all potential risks associated with social media during a personal injury claim is by staying off all platforms. Deactivate all your social media accounts until your case ends.
Before you deactivate, change your privacy settings to the most private possible. Do not accept any new friend requests or followers. Never discuss your case or injury online. Assume anything you send digitally, even through text messaging, is recoverable and can be used against you during an injury claim. Work with an Omaha personal injury lawyer for more advice about what to do and what not to do to help your case.