Be Careful with Your Posts on Social Media Since the Information Shared Can be Used as Evidence in Your Personal Injury Case.
You can learn everything you ever (or never) wanted about social media friends and followers. From what they had for breakfast to what their youngest child said to their grandfather, people chronicle their lives on social media to share moments, keep in touch with distant family, or express themselves creatively, politically, or otherwise. But there is an unsuspected danger to sharing on a public platform when pursuing a personal injury claim. What you publish may be harmful to your case.
So, when you post your car accident story on Facebook, you may be giving an insurance adjustor or attorney information that could harm your claim. Once you file a claim, the insurance company and lawyer defending the insured investigate the claim. They examine police reports, interview witnesses, and research the injured claimant. Social media is one of the richest sources of information about an accident victim. As such, no matter which platform, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or Reddit, the most popular platforms in New Jersey, you must be prudent about what you reveal, especially if your accounts are public.
Protect Your Credibility in Personal Injury Claims in NJ
Since the cause of your injury, your credibility, and the extent of your damages are critical issues in a personal injury claim, any information that shows you engaging in activities incompatible with your injuries calls your credibility and damages claim into question.
For example, posting a picture of your son getting up on water skis for the first time may be a proud parent moment. But when the picture shows you on skis in the background, that could be damning evidence that your injuries are not severe or do not exist at all. And when your claim demands compensation for lost wages, it’s probably not a good idea to post pictures of you at work or write posts about being at work. Moreover, you could breach a confidential settlement agreement when you post details about it publicly.
Online Media Posts May Work Against Your Case
Even chronicling the events surrounding your accident, the journey of regaining your health, and other details about your accident may cause problems. The main thrust of a defense to negligence in personal injury cases is to prove the defendant was not negligent or the plaintiff is discreditable. Personal injury investigators and defense attorneys can use what you post against you when the details vary slightly from your previous statements about the accident and your injuries. Moreover, public confessions and conflicting witness statements on social media can affect how much compensation you receive or if you get any damages award.
Social Media Privacy Settings and Personal Injury Cases
Your privacy settings determine who can see your posts on many platforms, like Facebook and Instagram. When your account is public, anyone can see your posts, whether they are your friends or followers. Thus, the lawyer for the defendant in your personal injury case can read your posts and comments on other people’s posts. So, when you like someone’s post about speeding on the open highway or nearly escaping the police while driving and drinking, that information could turn up as evidence in your case, especially if there is any doubt about your contribution to a car accident, for example.
Social Media Posts and the Discovery Process
You can change the privacy settings on your social media accounts, but that does not guarantee that your posts will not end up in the hands of opposing counsel or the judge presiding over your case. While an opposing party cannot go fishing through your social media accounts, looking for evidence when your account is private, they can require you to produce specific social media posts relating to your case or credibility when they have proof of you contradicting your claim. Social media posts are subject to discovery. Also, your comments are still visible on others’ public accounts. And when you are not careful about new friend requests, you may unknowingly invite an investigator or adjustor to see your private posts.
Deleting Your Posts can Worsen Your Personal Injury Case
Deleting accounts or posts is not the solution. In fact, you may raise suspicion of wrongdoing. Removing incriminating posts may be spoliation, which is the destruction or alteration of the relevant evidence in a legal case, and is illegal. Moreover, deleting your account does not avoid your obligation to produce your social media posts, while there is an option to reinstate your account. As a result, your life in words, pictures, and videos may be your downfall. Indeed, the other side can interpret your photos and words out of context when they could be innocent, but the more explaining you must do, the more you cast doubt on your truthfulness.
Minimize or Stop Social Media Activity as Much as You Can
Your safest bet is to post minimally or not while a personal injury claim is pending. What you may consider innocent, such as check-ins or liking others’ posts, can incriminate you. Even comments by friends and family can be incriminating. Thus, your strongest protection against the tools personal injury attorneys use, social media, is to stay off it until your case concludes. When you need to talk to someone about what you are going through, seek professional help or vent to a friend or family member who does not post on social media.
Secure Your Case by Retaining our Experienced NJ Injury Firm
More importantly, seek advice from a personal injury attorney at our accomplished personal injury firm. Since we investigate claims, we know about social media as an information tool to bolster or bust a claim. Our personal injury lawyers want to know about your social media accounts and what you think may compromise your case. When you consult with a member of our team, we can tell you about the types of social media photos, check-ins, likes, comments, and videos that could hurt your case. So, it would be best to reveal anything you believe is damaging and avoid posting anything that may detract from your lawsuit against another party responsible for your injuries.
The worst-case scenario is when your attorney discovers incriminating evidence from opposing counsel. Our lawyers can prepare for damage control when we know that damning evidence exists. Therefore, when you sit down with a personal injury attorney at our Hamilton law office, be prepared to inform us about all your social media activity that relates to being injured or in an accident, so we can help you plan how to best handle any issues that may arise. With our experience, we understand how to counter an attack on your claim with rehabilitating evidence and proof of your losses.
Talk to Your Princeton Lawyer to Protect Your Personal Injury Claim from the Adverse Impacts of Social Media Posts
To discuss your accident and questions regarding social media involvement in your personal injury case, contact Cohen & Riechelson for assistance. We can help you pursue maximum compensation for your injury claim in Hamilton, Titusville, Princeton, Burlington, Hightstown, Lawrence, Trenton, Lambertville, West Windsor, and other New Jersey locations. Contact us at (609) 528-2596 for a free case evaluation or access our online contact form for your confidential consultation or appointment.