Social media makes it possible to share a variety of information with friends and loved ones, but that same feature can lead to some serious legal problems. Many people share their emotions and frustrations in status updates as well as the details of their daily activities.
Important news, from the announcement of a new baby to a cross-country move can be made in a matter of seconds, allowing the important people in your life to share in your good news no matter where they are. Understandably, there is significant temptation to share information about bad news on your social media profiles as well. Unfortunately, mentioning the details of a traumatic event such as a car accident can lead to trouble.
Social Media Discretion & Privacy
The biggest issue with sharing the news about your accident on your status is that you could unknowingly incriminate yourself later on in a personal injury lawsuit. Social media posts can be used as evidence against you when you file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your car accident damages.
Even an innocent factual error made during a post immediately after a traumatic car accident, when you are not thinking clearly, could be used by the other side to challenge you testimony. A personal injury attorney in Phoenix can help coach you on what things you should avoid discussing on social media to protect your case. It is important to remember that while you may be posting to your friends online, they are not the only people who have access to your message.
After the Lawsuit Has Been Filed
After you have filed a personal injury lawsuit, the discovery process starts. Discovery means that both your attorney and the other side’s legal counsel will begin investigating all relevant documentation, including social media posts. As the claimant, you will receive a list of formal written questions to answer.
Remember that these answers are admissible in court, so it is important that they are consistent and accurate. You will also have to list each social media platform you use so the lawyers on the other side can investigate your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts.
The purpose of the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit is to find any information that could hurt your insurance claim. Factual inconsistencies, pictures and comments can all lead to problems for your personal injury case unless you are careful about what you post to social media. Insurance companies also have insurance defense attorneys that constantly looks for ways to deny your claim. The best practice when filing a lawsuit is to assume that all online correspondence is public and avoid saying anything you would not say directly to the other party’s attorney. Pictures, videos and comments posted online are considered public and not protected by attorney/client privilege.
When NOT to Post an Accident on Social Media or Disclose Important Information
There is some debate regarding what you are required to disclose to the other side during a lawsuit, but taking a conservative approach minimizes your chance of issues resulting from social media use. Even positive status updates about your life that seem unrelated to your accident could harm your case.
Here are some examples of statements you should avoid posting on social media while a personal injury trial is underway.
- “Healing faster than I thought I would!”
- “Thank goodness the car accident wasn’t that serious. I could have really gotten hurt.”
- “I’m going to make a lot of money off this lawsuit.”
- “So glad to be back to work and not in pain!”
- “Can’t wait to hang out with friends this weekend and go hiking.”
Even seemingly unrelated statements about how well you are feeling on a given day can result in further scrutiny of your injury claims. It is likely that the other party’s legal team will use any mention of your improved health or even subjective feelings of wellness to question the severity of your injuries.
It is best to avoid making any statements related to the accident on social media platforms, even if you are only updating friends and family. Also avoid any discussion of your health that could give the impression that you are not suffering from the injuries you have claimed.
When posting on social media after an accident, it is also important to remember not to discuss the details of your lawsuit. Any discussion of your lawsuit could be interpreted by the other side as evidence for a litigious attitude and may damage your reputation in court.
Even if you are understandably upset after the actions of a negligent driver have left you injured and unable to resume normal functioning, resist the temptation to vent those frustrations on social media. It is best to keep any discussion of your accident on purely factual terms, allowing your car accident attorney in Phoenix to pursue any claims against the other driver.
Moving Forward & Having Patience During Your Case
While it can be difficult to censor yourself so strictly on social media, learning the types of comments to avoid gets easier with time. Personal injury trials can take months and sometimes years to complete, so it helps to take a long-term approach to these issues. By avoiding these dangerous discussion topics, your attorney has less to contend with from the opposition and more time to focus on building a strong case.
With patience and social media savvy, you will be that much closer to receiving the compensation you deserve after a serious car accident.