The impact of social media is widespread and far-reaching. Top social media sites include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. In 2018, there were 243,600,000 social media users in the United States alone. That’s right…more than 243 million! Most of you reading this have an account on at least one of these sites.
Social media has changed how we communicate, socialize, advertise, and shop. Often less considered is how social media has influenced our civil and criminal justice system. This is significant and it could be critically important to you or a member of your family if you get involved in litigation.
While we are fighting for a fair recovery for our clients, the other side is searching—aggressively—for anything and everything to reduce or eliminate that recovery. This includes social media. Insurance companies and defense attorneys routinely monitor and investigate social media to look for ways to discredit you and to undermine your claim. Even the most innocuous post could be used against you in your personal injury case. With social media, clients need to know that “everything you post can and will be used against you.”
Let’s say you suffered a back injury in a motor vehicle accident that continues to impact your quality of life, despite treatment. Most people, although injured, will try to do as many of their normal activities as possible. A photograph of you gardening, on a hike, or participating in a sporting event could severely damage your credibility and future financial recovery. A photograph never tells the full story, but it will be twisted by the other side to try and show you’re exaggerating your pain. You’ve just handed the other side a weapon to discredit you in negotiations and potentially in front of a jury if your case ends up in litigation.
To avoid this situation, make all social networking accounts private. Be aware that you can’t rely on privacy settings alone to prevent the other side from accessing your information. Privacy settings often change without our knowledge. If a post or picture was once viewable to all, odds are it’s out there and discoverable somewhere on the internet. And even if all your information is private, your friends’ accounts may not be.
It is easy to find your social media friends and browse their accounts for information, photographs, or posts about you. For this reason, you must be vigilant in protecting what others post about you as well as what you post. As a rule of thumb, anyone involved in a personal injury claim should avoid posting on social media while their claim is pending, or consider eliminating their accounts altogether until their claim is resolved. Although social media posts don’t always hurt your case, they never help.
Our clients have endured a physical and/or psychological injury caused by another person’s negligence. The system is intended to compensate those injured for their expenses and suffering. But, this process isn’t perfect or fair and requires advocacy. You need to present your best case to obtain just compensation.
At Abeyta Nelson Injury Law, we specialize in navigating personal injury claims, including the social media minefield, to obtain the best results for our clients. If you’ve been injured, you don’t have to go alone. Give Abeyta Nelson Injury Law a call today to schedule a free consultation. There is never a charge to discuss your questions with us and never a fee unless we win your case.
-blog written by attorney Maggie Lund, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law