It may seem like a good idea to post an update to your social media account after an accident. After all, it’s a fast and easy way to let everyone know you’re alright; people can get the facts without the need to call; and you won’t have to tell the same story over again. However, posting on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms can ruin your chances for building a strong personal injury case.
The Dangers of Using Social Media During Your Personal Injury Case in Florida
Accident victims should be aware that anything they post on social media can be accessed by the defense. This could be an employer, an insurance company, or an at-fault driver, as well as the attorneys who represent them. After your case is filed, the defense goes to work collecting evidence that could disprove or devalue your claim, and research usually begins with an online search.
Social media accounts can hurt your injury claim in many ways, including:
- Posts about the accident. The most obvious evidence against you would be your own words about the accident. Your explanation and descriptions of the accident and what happened afterward could be in conflict with your actual court testimony, hurting your credibility with the judge. Don't post anything about the accident, your injuries, the people involved, or even how you are feeling, even if friends ask you direct questions.
- Photos. Pictures are often used to make a point in court, especially if they contradict an injury victim’s claim. A photo of you having fun with your friends days after the accident may make the judge question the severity of your injuries. Additionally, photos of you on a road trip, out to dinner, or even smiling can be twisted into evidence that the injuries aren't what you claim. Avoid uploading pictures, and if you are tagged in them, remove the tags or set your photo viewing to “only me” in your privacy options.
- Friend activity. Even if you avoid posting, there's no way to control what your friends do on social media. A friend who is on your side may post about the accident, blame the other driver, or say something that will unintentionally hurt your case. Make it clear to them that while you appreciate their concern, you request that nothing be discussed online. There could also be people browsing your profile you don’t know personally, but you have accepted them as a friend. You should avoid discussions and groups with strangers, and don't accept new friend requests until your case is over.
- Inactive accounts. Some people choose to close or suspend their social media accounts or stop posting until their claim has been settled. If your account is officially listed as inactive, it can still be subpoenaed and used as evidence in court. Even if you haven’t posted in a while, anything you have posted in the past can be used against you.
- Privacy settings. In most cases, changing the privacy setting on your Facebook or Twitter page won't affect whether it can be used as evidence. Once it has been subpoenaed, the defense will be granted access to not just your posts, but also to all social media activity—including private messages, chat conversations, and even gaming.
- Search settings. Removing yourself from public search listings and the search results on Facebook or Twitter may be possible, but it has its limits. Even if your profile is only be discoverable by your friends, social media platforms change their privacy regulations frequently—and the information can still be subpoenaed, whether it is hidden or not.
When it comes to posting online, nothing is private. For this reason, it's best to shut down or even delete Facebook and Twitter accounts during the claims process. If necessary, you can post a short message saying that you were in an accident and that you won’t be posting online for a while before deactivating the account. Anyone who is actually a friend will know how to get in touch with you for more information.
FAQs: Social Media and Your Injury Case
Social media can severely damage your case if you’re not careful. Here are answers to frequently asked questions we get from our clients about social media:
Can I share information about my case on social media?
NO! This is so important, I’ll say it again, No! It’s very important that you do not post ANYTHING about your case on social media. The other side in your case will look for any and all information about you on social media. They will try to use whatever you post to damage your case.
My social media is private, so is it OK to post pictures of me and share information about my case?
No. Even though your social media may be “private,” investigators have ways of gaining access and getting the information. For example, pictures showing you engaging in activities may be shared by others with access to your private social media. If your name is “tagged” in their social media, the pictures might be found. Pictures like these will be used against you by the other party.
What can I do about family and friends who post things about me?
Tell them that anything they post about you may be used against you. Ask them to respect your privacy and remind them that the concern is only temporary. Once your case is resolved, everyone can relax and continue enjoying social media.
For more tips on building your injury case, fill out the form on this page to make an appointment in our offices.