Social media is an integral part of our lives during the digital age.
While it’s invaluable for staying connected to family members and friends and for professional networking, it nevertheless comes with some serious drawbacks.
One drawback is the impact social media can have on personal injury cases. You should assume that your social media profile can be dragged into evidence.
Here are a few ways social media could reduce the value of your claim.
Social Media Can Be Used as Evidence
One of the biggest ways social media can impact personal injury cases is by providing evidence that can be used in court.
In many cases, people post updates, photos, and videos on social media platforms that can show they aren’t as injured as they claim to be.
For example, if someone claims that they suffered from severe back pain after an accident, then posts photos showing they were lifting heavy weights or taking a Zumba class, that information would absolutely show up later in order to undermine their claims.
Social Media Can Devalue Pain and Suffering Claims, as well as Loss of Earning Capacity Claims
When you make a pain and suffering claim, you often provide documentation of the ways that the injury has made it impossible to engage in your normal day-to-day activities or beloved hobbies.
A photo doesn’t have to show you living it up at the beach to be used against you. Someone might capture the 5 minutes you made your ponderous way into a party just to say hi before you collapsed, exhausted, on the couch. But you can bet the defendants will make a big deal about your “party lifestyle.” They’ll definitely use it to claim that you can’t possibly be suffering any mental distress. Because there you are. Having fun. Even though that’s not the way that emotional distress works.
Similarly, if you’re seeking a loss of earning capacity claim because the injury has rendered you unable to work, you don’t want a social media feed full of you engaged in fun activities. Again, even that 5 minutes you spent blowing out your candles looks a bit too much like you’re “not being hurt enough to stop work” because clearly, you’re not in bed 24/7.
Look, it’s not fair. It can border on the nonsensical. You could have a perfectly legitimate reason for every picture of every activity. Your opponents aren’t interested in “fair” and “unfair,” though. They’re interested in getting out of the case without paying you very much money, which means they will make a huge deal out of every scrap of evidence they find. They want to paint you as a liar, a malingerer, and a faker. Don’t give them ammunition; don’t let your friends give them ammunition, either.
If that means you have to set a boundary with your friends and loved ones explaining you don’t want any pictures taken and you definitely do not want anything on social media profiles until your case is done, that’s what it means.
What to Do About Social Media During Your Personal Injury Case
We recommend that you take the following steps:
- Stop posting altogether.
- Avoid using direct messages or private messages on social media platforms. Switch to an encrypted messenger service like Signal instead.
- Boost up your privacy settings so that only you and your friends can see your existing content. This won’t stop a subpoena sent during a discovery process, but it could convince the insurance companies there’s not much to go after.
- Require your friends and families to avoid taking photographs of you during the case and forbid them from posting your photographs to social media profiles. If you find that they’ve snuck one in, ask them to take it down immediately.
- Alert your lawyer to any content which could impact your personal injury case.
It’s not fair that you can’t participate fully on social media during your personal injury case. It’s not fair that every little thing you do can be used against you, no matter how innocent it might be. It’s not fair that the expectation seems to be that if you’re hurt and can’t work, then you shouldn’t do anything other than sleep, be in pain, and be sad all day long.
It’s not fair that society doesn’t understand that injury victims have good days and bad days. It’s not fair that the insurance companies have painted injury victims in the worst possible light, ensuring that every jury and insurance company is almost convinced plaintiffs are out to scam their way to riches from the moment you file your claim for your legitimate damages.
It’s just the way things are. So stay off Twitter, Facebook, and Insta. Be careful what you say or share on Discord. Wait out your case.
You can always get back to normal life later.