How Social Media Posts Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
If you have been injured by another person or an organization, either physically, emotionally, or mentally, you may decide to seek damages. You may ask for compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or other financial burdens resulting from the injury. Damages can also be punitive, used to punish the individual or institution that caused the injury.
If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, it is important to know how social media can have an impact on your case. While you may feel the urge to broadcast your situation on social media channels, be aware that actively posting about your claim can have unforeseen, and unwanted, consequences. Here are a few important things to consider about using social media after an injury.
Everything You Post Is in the Public Domain
The job of the defense is to prove that your injury has not resulted in the damages that you have claimed. You might think that what you post on social media is covered by privacy laws, but the reality is that once you post it online, even with a select audience, it is considered a source of evidence.
According to the courts, your social media is a matter of public record and open to use by the defense, regardless of whether you limit the post to a select group of friends or not.
In the case of Romano v. Steelcase, an office worker filed a product liability suit when her chair collapsed. She claimed her injury kept her from leaving home and socializing, so the defense combed her social media accounts, showing pictures of the outside of her home. Using this information, they tried to claim that her mental injury was not as severe as she claimed.
Therefore, it is important to consult with your attorney regarding your social media usage.
Avoid Discussions About Your Case
If you are using your social media accounts after your injury, it is vital not to talk about your case in your posts. Avoid discussing your injury and do not bring up conversations with your attorney or insurance company. While the information might seem innocent, the reality is that anything on social media can be used against you in court.
Some attorneys even encourage their clients to temporarily suspend their social media usage until the case is settled. Whether or not this applies to you would be a decision reached after consulting with your attorney.
Use Social Media Wisely
When it comes to social media, make your profile private and do not accept any new friend requests after your injury. Additionally, ask your friends and family to refrain from asking about or mentioning your injury or case online in their posts.
Depending on the situation, you may also encourage them to make their profiles private as well. Keep in mind that private messages, however, cannot be accessed unless the consent of the parties is obtained or a warrant issued.
It is key to remember that social media is often something we use to put our best foot forward and therefore, we might post photos or comments that reflect how we wish we were feeling or what we wish we were doing, instead of what is really going on in your life.
In a 2012 paper published in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, Kathryn R. Brown found that users of social media tend to present themselves as “attractive” or “having fun,” creating a persona that is “socially desirable.” We tend to avoid posting about the negative on our social media, instead focusing on the positive aspects of our lives.
For those who might be in the middle of a personal injury case, it is crucial to consider what you post on social media and recognize that even what you believe to be innocent or benign postings could be used against you in court.
Need Legal Assistance?
If you believe you have been injured, but are unsure how to proceed, then contact us for a consultation regarding the facts of your case.
As one of the most successful litigation practices in the Philadelphia area, Marrone Law Firm, LLC provides vigorous, effective representation in matters ranging from personal injury and medical malpractice to real estate and criminal law.