Social Media Can DESTROY Your Personal Injury Claim
Social media has quickly morphed into a huge form of communication. It is advisable to be cautious on how posts on social media can affect your personal injury case before mentioning it online.
As aforementioned, social media is an important form of communication. We get to connect with our old friends who are miles away; post happy moments faster than postcards; and most consider now a steady source of news by nearly half of Facebook users. It has also become a platform where people tell tales of their unexpected moments, personal challenges and wonderful moments. This could also explain why someone who just had an accident would suddenly go on social media to tell their story. Needless to say, it has become a major new concern for personal injury attorneys.
For instance, in 2011, a New York woman made a case against manufacturers of a chair she claimed to have fallen off. She claimed she the fall caused serious permanent personal injuries and loss of enjoyment of life. The manufacturer obtained permission to access the woman’s Facebook page, even with the privacy settings she had in place. Her posts and photos showed her travelling and participating in activities that were deemed contradictory to her claims of injuries by the defense. Even though it’s a possibility that someone could actually be injured, yet still travel and or enjoy themselves, these photos are a major problem for the claimant’s attorney. When presented before a jury and they appear not in tune with the claim, it could hurt a personal injury suit.
Quite recently, Reverend Al Sharpton’s daughter presented a $5 million dollar lawsuit against the city of New York after she allegedly sprained her ankle on a city street and required the state to pay for damages. Not too long after filing this law suit, she posted photographs after hiking to the top of a mountain. She was ordered by the judge in charge of her case to not tamper with all her social media images, posts, and even emails since they related to her post-accident health and mobility.
DISCLOSURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION
Various systems have created policies and procedures to authenticate requests and disclose information following the evolution of social media as a primary communication channel. Channels like Facebook will not release posts, photos, and other sensitive information unless it is in accordance with a subpoena. Nevertheless, a judge may still order that a claimant or the plaintiff must release their social media information if a specific request is made. As a result of this, most social media channels have begun to devise ways for people to download their complete profile and all other related data or information.
The legal system has had to adjust even to new platforms like Snapchat, which temporarily saves photos and messages. In a Snapchat Transparency report, it was revealed that between November 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015 it had gotten 375 request for data on 666 users in America. However, only 92% of those requests came through. Furthermore, law enforcement could request that user data be saved for up to 180 days.
SOCIAL MEDIA SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Is it then prudent for claimants to desist from making their grievances known on social media pages? Yes.
In truth, the social media does not in any reasonably way help such claims. Privacy settings no longer pose as hindrances, and in recent development, judges have been asking victims to disclose their posts and photos from their social media accounts. Equally worrisome is the fact that it’s not only the opposing counsel that is checking up on claimants, but the insurance companies are doing so as well. It is therefore advisable to refrain from posting anything online that you would not say when you’re on the witness stand.
Furthermore, this has gone beyond a call on claimants to be wary. Through these same channels, Witnesses, members of the jury, and even judges can be investigated.
TRIED AND TRUE RULES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA IN YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CASE
With respects to your case, here are a few simple rules that you can adhere to:
Understand what your social media profile says about you.
Always have it in mind that whatever you post defines you. It therefore becomes quite important to review your social media history and fully know what it says about you. Many social media have tools that make your complete profile history downloadable with the click of a button. For instance, Facebook has the “Download Your Information” tool, Twitter equally has the “Download Your Archive “tool which allows users to download their complete history including Timeline info, shared posts, messages and even photos. Additionally, programs such as Instaport makes downloading your complete Instagram history in a Zip file possible.
Check and modify your privacy settings.
Access your social media accounts and review your privacy settings to make sure that you have set a limit to those who can view contents from your page. Additionally, using Facebook’s “View As” allows you to see your profile as others would see it, while the “Timeline Review” tool lets you review and confirm tags, photos, and check-ins before they are eventually posted on your timeline.
Never post about your case.
Desist from putting any information about your case or information that could be used against you on your social media page. Information such as the conversation you had with your attorney, doctor’s visits, email exchanges or even insurance company frustrations should never be posted at all.
It is very necessary to understand that anything you put online could be used against you in the court of law, and not even the highest privacy settings can change that. Always tell your friends and relatives to post with every sense of moderation, or to desist from tagging you in a post. Check-ins could mean activities, or show that you were or were not somewhere you said you were. Photos of you engaging in certain activities could mean that you are not injured like you claimed.
Limit new friend and follower requests.
As a follow-up to modifying your privacy settings, decline friend requests from people you do not know personally. Furthermore, you should evaluate your present friend lists and followers to see that you know everyone listed, and not connected to your case.
By adopting these practical methods, you will protect yourself by restricting information that could affect your personal injury case. Claimants are advised to consult with their attorneys in case they have any questions.
If you are in need of a Personal Injury Attorney in Nashville, TN with a great track record, contact Jeff Roberts & Associates, PLLC at (615) 425-4400. We will give you the attention you deserve!