The majority of people are now accustomed to using social media in their personal and professional lives. We promote our political views, post family photos and share details about our latest vacation or dining experience. Most of us consider social media an enjoyable and harmless way to keep in touch with family and friends. However, those seemingly innocent posts can backfire quickly once you file a personal injury claim.Do You Have a Case?
If you have filed a claim for injuries you sustained in an accident, posting on social media can hurt your case. This applies to being compensated for medical expenses as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
For example, suppose a plaintiff is claiming a loss of mobility as the result of the accident. The claim can be promptly discredited by photos that show them playing football or arm-wrestling with their younger brother.
In addition, a photo of the plaintiff smiling at a party can be used against them if they claim to be suffering from chronic pain.
Using social media can be especially harmful to those seeking damages for emotional harm. A plaintiff may say they are unable to enjoy life as a result of the injury. Or, someone may claim they have become depressed, anxious or isolated since their accident. Posting on social media can have a major impact on these cases.
Obvious examples include posting photos of group outings or family gatherings. However, even an abundance of birthday wishes can be used as evidence that the person is not living in isolation. This is especially true if the plaintiff “likes” or posts responses to the greetings.
Many people believe restricting public access to their social media accounts protects their privacy. And, a court will not typically give defense lawyers unrestricted access to your social media accounts. However, the defense is entitled to any information that is considered relevant to your case. Therefore, the opposing side may be able to use your posts as evidence regardless of your settings.
To be relevant, a post does not have to relate directly to the accident, such as photos of your damaged car or your arm in a cast. Additionally, photos posted weeks or months after the injury can be used to disprove your claim. A judge can allow anything remotely related to your case to be used as evidence. Consequently, plaintiffs are advised to avoid using social media after an accident, even before filing a claim.
Most personal injury plaintiffs have sustained genuine injuries. They are not trying to recover damages under false pretenses. However, defense lawyers can (and usually will) find ways to use your social media posts against you. Getting that cast removed may be a great photo opportunity, but it can come back to haunt you.
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