Social Media & Your Personal Injury Case
By Holly Ortiz, Trial Attorney with the Pendleton Law Team
You’ve been in a car accident or have slipped and fallen in a store and you were injured. It’s normal to want to share about this on social media so friends and family can stay updated on your progress but; can posting about your accident impact your personal injury case?
The short answer is, ABSOLUTELY!
Any good attorney for a defendant and the defendant’s auto insurance company is going to look you up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you have posted pictures or made comments about your injuries; those things may be used against you during negotiations or in a trial.
For example; I had a client that had a back injury as a result of an auto accident. While he was still treating with a physical therapist; we had a huge snowstorm. He didn’t want to risk either himself or his elderly mother slipping and falling on his snowy sidewalk, so he pushed through his back pain and shoveled his sidewalk and driveway. His girlfriend came by and took some video of the snow which included video of him shoveling. The defendant’s attorney used this video in court, and it had a big impact on the amount of his judgment!
Some simple social media rules to follow when you have a personal injury case:
1) Don’t post any pictures, video, or audio about your accident. That includes photos of your car damage, photos of your injuries or video of the scene. Resist the temptation and send a private message to close friends and family.
2) If you have already posted something online about your accident, don’t delete it or take it down! The internet is forever and if you attempt to delete something, it looks like you are trying to hide information about your injuries or accident. Leave it up and don’t post anything else.
3) Don’t post pictures or video of yourself engaging in activity that is strenuous. If you’re injured, you should be following doctor’s restrictions and avoiding activity that may aggravate your injuries during recovery. If the defendant’s auto insurance company sees photos or video of this; it’s unlikely that you will be compensated for any treatment after the posted activity.
4) Change your privacy settings so that your information isn’t public. This is probably a good idea for lots of reasons but especially when you have a personal injury case pending. Defense attorneys and investigators can get all kinds of information from your social media profile that they may try to use against you at trial.
5) Finally, once you’ve changed your privacy settings, don’t accept friend requests from people that you don’t know. Investigators from auto insurance companies are going to try and find out as much information about you as they can. They are not above creating fake profiles and sending you a friend request to gain access to your page.
Social media is a great tool for keeping in contact with friends and family near and far but, when you have a personal injury case in process, play it safe and don’t post!