Can Social Media Affect Your Personal Injury Case?
Social media is a leading force in many people’s lives. Here, many keep up to date with the latest news, talk to loved ones and reconnect with others, especially in the past few months of social distancing.
Despite the advantages that social media has to offer, it also has some negative aspects, not the least of which is a lack of privacy.
This point has been demonstrated in data breaches that result in loss of user information and other major disasters. However, the lack of privacy can also affect individuals in circumstances such as legal proceedings.
For example, if you are a victim of personal injury, social media may not be on your side to win the case.
Can social media be used as evidence in a court case?
It’s perfectly legal for social media to be used as evidence in court. However, like any type of evidence, it must be authenticated and admitted according to the rules of evidence. There have been numerous cases where insurance companies have used photos, status updates, tweets, and even public conversations to expose an applicant’s lack of integrity.
In the past, insurance companies relied on private investigators and other covert methods to get critical information. Today, however, it’s much easier: a quick web search can reveal personal information and link it directly to your social media accounts.
Social media provides an extremely beneficial point of view for defendants because information about a plaintiff is easily accessible. And, unlike dishonest disclosure, information on social media can easily be misinterpreted and used against you in ways that may not be fair.
It could even change the trajectory the fall takes. For example, a video posted on social media following an accident showing the victim swimming or dancing may undermine the legality of a personal injury claim.
This, of course, can be very problematic in a personal injury case and can be seen as a definite visual inconsistency with what you are verbally claiming. If you are able to participate in physical activities despite your injury, it is important to be honest with your attorney and to point out that they can be enjoyed even in pain. Even so, a defendant could use such evidence to argue that your injury is not as serious or limiting as you claim.
A real life example of social media used in court
A real life example is the 2011 personal injury lawsuit, Largent v. Reed, in which the plaintiff alleged that a recent accident had seriously injured her physically and mentally. In the course of the lawsuit, the defendants discovered post-accident status posted on Facebook that contradicted the applicant’s argument, including photos of the applicant spending time with her family and a status update about a visit to the gym. The defendant used this information to argue that the plaintiff’s injuries were not as serious as they claimed.
What to watch out for in the event of personal injury
The most important action you can take regarding your social media during a personal injury is to keep your account settings private. But even if your account is set to private, avoid discussing your case, injuries, and treatment online while your case is open. You should also avoid posting anything on social media that shows or discusses physical activity as it can be misconstrued and used against you.
Speak to your personal injury attorney for more tips on how to prevent social media from negatively affecting your case.