Social Media Use and Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Social media has become a popular way for people to connect and interact, but it has also become a minefield of evidence for attorneys, judges, insurance companies, and even law enforcement. In fact, sources like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook are increasingly making an appearance in courtrooms, and even in personal injury cases outside of a courtroom, which often catches injured accident victims off guard. If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, know how to effectively protect your case from some commonly made social media mistakes.
What Can Be Used?
When it comes to social media, lawyers can use almost anything you post against you: photos, status posts, and even comments made on the posts of your friends. Your blog can be read, viewed, and presented as evidence. In other words – anything you say and do online during a pending case (with a few exceptions) may be used against you in your case. So practice due diligence and never write, post, message, or even text something that you would not be comfortable sharing in a courtroom.
Evidence That Can Negatively Impact Your Case
A lot of the information that can damage your personal injury case might, at first glance, seem harmless; treating yourself to dinner with your friends on a day that you actually had the energy, attending a work conference that doubled as a retreat, or simply going for a short walk for fresh air to try and build up your strength again could all be twisted in a way that unfairly puts you, the victim, on the defense. All of these seemingly innocent moments (and more) can be used to contest the validity of your claim.
The disturbing part about this is that a social media snapshot tells only a small part of the story. Sure, you might have sat by the pool at the work conference/retreat, but after five minutes, you were so exhausted that you went to your hotel room, which is where you spent the rest of the weekend. Yet, you can bet that a savvy defense attorney or insurance adjustor will take the picture and paint you as a poolside partier who lives “the high life.” If you want “the rest of the story” explained, you will be forced to “defend” yourself, which, although completely unfair, is a sad reality. The more explanations an injured party has to offer, the more likely it is the jury may be less likely to respect or believe the plaintiff.
Best Online Practices for Protecting Your Personal Injury Case
If you are a plaintiff in a personal injury case, protect yourself using these online best practices:
Increase your privacy settings on all of your social media accounts;
If at all possible, stop posting to social media completely (but be careful not to delete or alter prior posts);
Do not add any new posts to your blog;
Avoid commenting on the posts and photos of your friends;
Ask friends not to tag you in photos or posts (and monitor anything you are posted in);
Ask friends to not post any comments on your wall;
Carefully consider anything you do post (if your instinct tells you that a post could be harmful, do not post it); and
Consider carefully your entire presence online (including those you use for work).
Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers for Guidance and Assistance
At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd., we provide more than just legal representation. Committed, experienced, and dedicated to your best interests, our Appleton, Wisconsin personal injury lawyers will guide you through the process and protect your interests, every step of the way. Get the skilled assistance you deserve. Call 920-739-7366 and schedule your consultation today.