Most of us use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with friends and share updates about our lives. We tend to think of these posts as harmless. But if you’ve been injured, what you say on social media could hurt your claim.
Insurance companies and defense lawyers routinely look at plaintiffs’ social media accounts for evidence. They may take your words or photos out of context. If you post a photo of yourself enjoying the outdoors, for example, they could use it to argue that you weren’t really hurt—or that your injury hasn’t affected your quality of life.
Unfair as it seems, this type of argument holds sway with juries. Your social posts could lower your settlement or prevent you from even getting a settlement. That’s why we warn all our clients to be extremely careful about what they share.
Depending on your case, you might want to go as far as to deactivate your social media accounts. You shouldn’t delete old posts or photos, however, as you may then appear to be hiding something. If you keep your social media accounts active, we recommend you follow these guidelines:
1. Review your existing social media accounts. Update your privacy settings and, if you see anything that could be taken out of context, discuss it with your attorney immediately instead of deleting it.
2. Never discuss your case on social networking sites. Don’t mention your injuries or even say you were involved in an incident.
3. Never mention your activities or post photos of yourself after the injury. A defense attorney could use photos or references to physical, social, or work-related activities as evidence that you weren’t really injured.
4. Never accept a friend request from a stranger. The defense sometimes sends friend requests to plaintiffs to access their private posts.
5. Discuss social media posts with friends and family. Politely ask them to refrain from tagging you or posting photos of you until your case is resolved.
As always, you should discuss matters with your own attorney. Every case is different, and relying on your best judgment isn’t enough. A photo or status update that seems harmless could be taken out of context and used against you. It’s better to play it safe and go silent on social media than to risk hurting your case.