Social Media Tips for Personal Injury Victims During Legal Proceedings
Be careful what you post while your case is being settled – it may affect what damages you recover!
When you are injured in an accident that is outside of your control, your life may be significantly altered. While some injuries only require a few weeks or months to heal, many car accidents leave victims with injuries that may never fully heal, or they may temporarily/permanently prevent them from working at all. If you have serious injuries, it’s probable that you will require doctor visits, expensive surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, and more.
You deserve maximum compensation for these injuries that change your life. But insurance companies have their bottom line at heart, and they make more money when they settle cases like yours for less. They will use any tactic they can to discredit your case in court.
If they can find evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you claim, that your life has not been significantly affected by your injuries, or that you are participating in activities that are aggravating your injuries, they can minimize your payout.
It’s very important that you do not hand this evidence to them unwittingly if your case is pending. But too often, unsuspecting accident victims compromise their own cases by being careless with their social media presence.
You’ve heard it said that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law; well, realize that anything you post – or anything you are tagged in – can also be used against you in a court of law. What you or your friends post can ruin your personal injury claim, even if your injuries are debilitating.
The best thing to do is just to deactivate your accounts and stay off of your social media entirely from the moment you consult with an attorney until the moment your case is settled, but if you need to be on it for other reasons, or if you just can’t see yourself staying disconnected for that long, here are some guidelines that you should follow while your case is pending!
Enable the highest privacy settings possible, on every platform
You don’t want to make it easy for opposing counsel or other outside parties to comb through your accounts and use personal details, posts, and photos against you. Set your accounts to private as much as possible. However, it’s important to remember that everything online is ultimately accessible. It will not make it impossible to see what you post, but it will make it harder for them to find.
Do not accept friend/follower requests from people you don’t know
Typically it is considered unethical for an attorney to friend a represented party on social media, but some attorneys and insurance claims adjusters will attempt to gain more access to your accounts (and, consequently, find more evidence they can use against you) by following you or becoming your friend online. Don’t make it easy for them to gain access.
Don’t discuss anything related to your case online
Statements that you think are innocent can be detrimental to your case. Don’t post a summary of how the accident happened, express remorse or regret for the accident, admit fault, talk about your pain or lack thereof, discuss getting a replacement vehicle or the destruction to your old one, talk about your lawyer or insurance company, talk about the other party involved in the accident, give an update about the legal proceedings, talk about your settlement amount, rant angrily about your situation, or say anything else related to your case. It’s impossible for people without extensive legal experience to really know how anything could be used against you, so it is prudent to just avoid mentioning the case online. Save your in-depth updates for phone calls or in-person conversations with people you trust.
Don’t post pictures of the accident
You should absolutely take these photos for your attorney’s use, but you should never post pictures or videos of the crash scene; you don’t know what opposing counsel may find in the photos to discredit your claim.
Don’t post updates about your condition or injuries
It doesn’t matter how you are feeling or if you have people constantly commenting/posting/messaging you and asking. Don’t update your friends online about your health following the accident, as this can be the perfect ammunition other attorneys or insurance adjusters need to minimize your settlement. If your injuries are severe enough, you may have good days and bad days, but good days are not the time to be posting “Finally got some relief today” or “I love days when I can almost forget about my accident and enjoy the outdoors”. Likewise, you also don’t want to be exaggerating or complaining about your injuries as this can also be twisted. It’s safer to, again, save updates for close family and friends when you see them in-person.
Don’t publish anything related to travel, recreation, or social activities
Publishing photos of a fun vacation, athletic activity, or party can majorly damage your case. Social media never tells the whole story – you may have had to take several painkillers to make it through, and you may have had to leave early, and you may have absolutely had to be at your parent’s 50th wedding celebration, or this may have been one day out of 100 that you felt well enough to go out, but to a judge or jury, this may look like you are not being truthful about the extent of your injuries and how much pain you are really experiencing.
Monitor posts you are tagged in
It’s not just you who has to be careful about what you post; if you go to a party or on vacation, and your family publishes these photos and tags you in them, it can be just as harmful to your case. Discuss these social media guidelines with your family and close friends, and be sure to remove any tags from photos that you would not want your insurance company to see.
Have any other questions about what is and what isn’t okay to post during a pending case? Contact The Florida Law Group for a free case evaluation today! Our elite attorneys are nationally recognized among the top 1% of lawyers. We have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients, and we may be able to do the same for you if you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence. We offer all of our services on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you don’t pay us anything unless we achieve a settlement. Our firm can help you win your case!