Many people cannot get through the day without scrolling through and posting photographs and comments on social media, but doing so when you have a pending personal injury lawsuit can hurt your case. The defendant can use your postings against you to reduce the amount of compensation you get or to deny your claim entirely.
Usually, the best practice is to take a social media break until your damages claim gets resolved. It can also help if you ask your close friends and family not to post anything about the accident or you. Even if you or they post something innocent and unrelated to your injury, the at-fault party can take the words or images out of context and twist them into something you did not intend. A California personal injury attorney can advise you about the use of social media during your pending case.
Understanding Why Privacy Settings Do Not Protect You
You cannot rely on your social media account privacy settings to keep your postings confidential. Once you post something online, you lose all control over the photograph or words.
Let’s say that you limit access to your postings to friends, thinking that the insurance company is not on anyone’s friends’ list, so you are safe. You have 400 friends on your social media account, so you expect that only those 400 people can see your photographs. In reality, many people actually have “friends of friends” privacy settings when they think they have friends only.
If each of your 400 friends has 400 unique friends, then 160,000 people can see your photographs. Any of those people can do a screen capture and send out your pictures without any restrictions and without your knowledge or permission.
Also, the defendant’s insurance has ways to get its hands on social media accounts on the grounds that these accounts could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Something you might feel is unrelated, like an after-work happy hour with co-workers, could be relevant to your car accident injury case. Your lawsuit might allege that you are barely able to walk because of pain from your injuries. Photographs of you dancing with friends at a bar can destroy your claim for injury compensation.
The Bottom Line
If you feel that you absolutely cannot go for several months without engaging in social media, please consider following these guidelines:
- Do not post anything about the accident, your injuries, or how you are feeling physically or emotionally.
- Insist that your friends and family follow the same prohibition.
- Make sure that your postings have the most limited privacy settings available.
- Before you finalize a posting, imagine the comment or photograph getting used in the courtroom. If that thought makes you even slightly uncomfortable or anxious, listen to your instincts and delete the item before posting it.
Finally, be aware of a sneaky tactic that the defendant or insurer might use against you. If you receive a friend invitation on social media while your injury claim is pending, ignore the request unless you are 100 percent confident that it is not someone trying to gain access to your postings for the defendant.
Technology can be a beautiful thing, but using social media during a pending liability claim can backfire on you. Contact our California personal injury attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your claim. We can explain how to avoid conduct that could hurt your claim for compensation.