Social media platforms are now a part of society’s fabric. These networks—from Facebook and Instagram to X and TikTok—allow people to share updates about their lives. But what happens when legal matters blur the line between personal and public interest? Specifically, have you ever wondered, “Can social media affect my personal injury claim?”
The answer is unequivocally yes. While these platforms have merits, they also have downsides that can seriously jeopardize your case. Read on to learn more about how social media can be an asset and a liability in personal injury law.
What Are the Pros of Social Media and Personal Injury Claims?
When used wisely, social media can be a powerful ally in your quest for justice. Whether it’s a Tweet, a Facebook post, or an Instagram story, these snippets of our daily lives can sometimes be crucial pieces of evidence or means of public support. Let’s look at a few ways social media can positively affect your personal injury case.
Social media platforms can document incidents in real-time, providing compelling evidence. For example, a post showing an auto accident immediately after it happens can provide context and support your case.
Witness Identification and Testimonies
Posts about an accident often prompt witnesses to come forward, aiding your claim. In this way, social media acts as a public record that can be accessed to gather evidence.
Support for Your Injury Claim
Sharing how your injuries affect work and hobbies can support claims for lost wages or decreased quality of life. For example, let’s say you’re a professional musician who plays the violin and is involved in a car accident that breaks your wrist. Multiple posts documenting your inability to play can support a claim for multiple types of damages.
Support for Your Emotional and Psychological Suffering
Posts that detail your emotional and psychological condition can help paint a fuller picture of any non-physical damages, like pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Your social media content may counter false claims. For example, if the opposing party alleges you had preexisting health issues that contributed to your injury, and your posts historically show an active, healthy lifestyle, they could refute those claims.
Character and Credibility
A well-maintained social media profile can be a great character reference, presenting a responsible, trustworthy individual. This can be particularly valuable if the opposing party tries to challenge your credibility.
Public Support and Pressure
Social media campaigns or posts can sometimes garner public sympathy and pressure the other party to settle more quickly. An online community’s emotional support and encouragement can also be invaluable, especially during a challenging time.
What Are the Cons of Social Media and Personal Injury Claims?
It’s easy to forget that what we share online can have far-reaching consequences. And it’s worth remembering that social media can be a double-edged sword with numerous potential downsides. The following are some cons of using social media that could jeopardize your case.
Posting about your accident may backfire. For instance, if you claim you have severe injuries but post pictures of yourself doing physical activities soon after your accident, it can weaken your case.
Inadvertent Admission of Fault
It’s possible to unknowingly admit fault or partial fault in a social media post. Any statement like “I didn’t see the other car coming” could be interpreted as admitting your negligence.
Timestamps and Locations
Your posts may have timestamps and location tags that can conflict with your claims. If you say you were at the doctor’s office, but your social media shows you at a party, it could throw your credibility into question.
Negative Character Evidence
The opposing party may use posts unrelated to your case to make character judgments that sway a jury against you. For instance, the opposing party could present pictures of you that depict excessive alcohol use to question your reliability and character.
Emotional Statements As Ammunition
Venting your frustrations or feelings on social media could equal ammunition. The opposing party can use any statements you make about your mental state against you if you include emotional damages as part of your claim.
Material Taken Out of Context
Similarly, the opposing party can twist innocent posts to fit their narrative. Sarcasm and jokes don’t always translate well in text, and the opposing party can deliberately misinterpret them.
Spying and Tracking
Legal teams could set up fake accounts to friend or follow you and gather information. Never accept a person’s friend request you don’t personally know when you’re involved in a legal proceeding.
Negative Public Opinion
Not all publicity is good publicity. Sometimes, a post can indirectly influence the proceedings or turn the public against you, affecting the jury’s perception of your claim.
What Social Media Guidelines Should I Follow During a Case?
If you decide to use social media during your case, pay attention to the following:
- Limit social media conversations about the case;
- Ensure you set your accounts to the highest privacy settings, and be cautious about who you accept as friends or followers;
- Don’t embellish or underestimate your injuries, as inconsistencies will hurt your credibility and your case;
- Always consider how a post could be perceived and used against you in a legal context; and
- Don’t delete posts; the defense could claim you’ve tampered with evidence.
In every case, consult an experienced personal injury attorney before posting or deleting anything related to your claim.
Contact The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC Today
In the event of an accident where you require the expertise of a seasoned attorney, The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, offers invaluable assistance. Our highly skilled personal injury lawyers specialize in various cases, including automobile accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, and traumatic brain injuries. We take immense pride in our longstanding tradition of excellence, having established the benchmark for personal injury law in Virginia for nearly fifty years. Our primary focus is on handling severe injuries, and our unmatched success, including securing the largest jury verdict in Norfolk, speaks for itself. Should you require top-tier legal representation, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a complimentary consultation.