The Dangers of Social Media for Plaintiffs in Personal Injury Cases
Advances in technology now seem to occur more frequently and with greater leaps forward. Nothing has quite changed the lives of people across the world than the invention of social media. The use of this online platform for interacting with other people is a part of daily life for many, and is particularly integrated into the culture of the millennial generation. While social media opens up new and faster means to communicate with others and receive information from multiple sources, it can pose problems for those involved with lawsuits, especially those related to personal injury claims. The information available on social media users provide a wealth of information to anyone, including the opponent in a case, that could be used against someone. One of the drawbacks of social media is that it is easy to misconstrue what a person meant to convey in a post or picture because there is no context to explain the information. Thus, it is important for litigants to carefully think about what they are putting online to avoid damaging their case. An overview of some of the specific risks posed by social media to personal injury cases and ways to mitigate their impact will follow below.
Given the ubiquity of social media use by adults in the U.S. (recent studies show use by adults at 74%), anyone making a personal injury claim should assume that the other side is looking at their social media accounts for information about them. Defense lawyers will specifically look for postings made on these sites to argue that a plaintiff is not as severely injured as alleged in court. This is accomplished by taking screenshots of any photos, blogs, tweets, or other postings that contradict claims of physical injury, like recent shopping trips and/or dinners out. This information is then reviewed to see if any relates to witnesses, claims, or parties named in the case. In fact, it is now becoming fairly common practice for defense lawyers to request access to postings that relate to a plaintiff’s injuries and activities. While defense lawyers cannot ask for blanket access to everything a plaintiff ever posted on social media, they still have the ability to request a large amount of information.
Protecting Your Case
After reading the warnings posted above, it may be tempting to delete pictures or posts that could potentially damage a case, but that is not a good idea. It is relatively easy to determine if someone deleted a post with current technology, and possible consequences range from the case being dismissed to being sued for fraud. The best way to protect the strength of your case is to severely limit, and ideally stop, posting anything on social media until the litigation is over. If completely abstaining is not a possibility, try to avoid posts related to activities or injuries because they could be used against you at trial. Further, try to provide as much context as possible so the defense has little room for interpretation.
Get Legal Advice
If you have been injured in an accident, talk to a personal injury lawyer about the possibility of recovering for your injuries. While social media will likely come up as a possible concern, any potential problems can usually be addressed and contained. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado represents clients in large variety of personal injury matters. Contact us for a free consultation to learn how they can help you.