Social media has largely been very prevalent in recent years, with many users engaging in these sites on a day-to-day or even hourly-to-hourly basis. In fact, it has become so much of a social norm that many individuals do not think of the potential damage these sites can do, especially when it comes to personal injury victims. If you or a loved one is involved in a lawsuit over a personal injury that has occurred, you should be aware how social media has been utilized to sway lawsuits in the wrong direction. To understand just how problematic misuse of social media can be, it is essential to understand the situation as a whole, as well as understand preventive steps you can take to guard your information.
The Problem- Your Posts Misconstrued
In the age of social media, insurance adjusters and defense attorneys alike have been utilizing popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to research claims made by injured parties. According to the Pew Research Institute, 71% of all online adults use Facebook, while 22% use LinkedIn, and 19% use Twitter. Needless to say, there is an abundance of information available online and those on the opposite end of your case very well know it. Not do only these agents use information from the case, if it is available, but they may use additional photos, text posts, and other personal data to raise credibility issue. For instance, a mere photo of someone having fun, even if it’s at a child’s birthday party, can raise unwarranted suspicion.
If a post helps you, it would not probably be admissible in court. alternatively, what a defendant can use against you, such a photos of a family vacation, they will.
Best Practices- For Social Media
In order to protect yourself from the possibility of social media misuse there are some steps you can take to prevent your information being wrongly used or falling into the wrong hands. To start, make sure that all of your social media accounts are set to private. For some sites, such as Facebook, there are various levels of privacy as well as the need to change privacy settings for each activity. For instance, displaying pictures would require their own privacy settings. In this regard, you should also limit the ability for others to “tag” such as through a status post or photo. Ensuring these are set to private will severely limit who has access to your information.
In addition, be mindful of who has access to your information in the first place! Even though your account settings may be set to private, this information can still be passed along to another party. Thus, you want to ensure that only the people who you know personally are “friended” by you on a social media site. In addition, do not friend strangers as these may be lawyers or their affiliates using a guise of an everyday citizen. The final step you can take to guard yourself and protect your pending suit is to use foresight into every post you make. Even the most innocent posts about your case can be misconstrued and used against you.
It is important to know that in some cases, victims are being required to produce social media posts. Almost every defense firm is now asking about social media in litigation discovery for cases such as car accidents or 18-wheeler collisions.
While social media can be a great way to connect with others, if you have a lawsuit on a personal injury claim pending, please use caution when using social media! Skilled defense attorneys can be very good at painting a picture different from reality- to hurt your case by using your posts.
If you have a personal injury claim pending the best action is to avoid posting to social media!