Atlanta car accident and injury law firm Scholle Law discusses how social media affects personal injury cases and motor vehicle accident claims.
Everyone is on social media. Family, friends, colleagues and even your long-lost best friend from 2nd grade is on there. If you are on social media you may be sharing information that seems harmless. What seems like appropriate content to share on social media could be harmful to your Georgia car accident or injury case. As a result, these days you have to be careful what you post because you never know who may see it. It cannot be said enough, social media affects personal injury cases!
Bottom Line: The insurance companies can and will use social media to weaken a plaintiff’s case. We recommend that you either restrict who can see your social media by adjusting your privacy settings or deactivate your social media until your personal injury case is resolved.
Social Media as Evidence
Evidence is only admissible if it is relevant. Admissible evidence is evidence that can be considered by a judge or jury. For instance, a judge or jury will determine who caused your car or truck accident. Also, they will be asked to make determinations about your injuries and what those injuries are worth in dollars.
Your attorney and the insurance company will likely have a difference in opinion concerning the cause of the accident and/or your injuries. Your attorney may argue that another driver caused the accident. The insurance company may try to shift the blame to you. This is also true with your injuries and damages. Your attorney will work hard to demonstrate the significance of your injuries. The insurance company on the other side will argue that you are not seriously hurt.
These arguments happen in every injury case. But what happens when an insurance company discovers negative information that can hurt your case? To say it plainly, negative information could result in you losing your case. Ok, but how does this relate to what is posted on your social media? The simple answer: social media affects personal injury cases and car accident claims.
Taken Out of Context?
What would you think about pictures showing someone enjoying a day at the beach only a week after a bad car crash? Would you believe someone was really hurt if you saw them smiling in a vacation video? What if that video was taken right after their accident? What if that same person wrote on Facebook the day after the accident that they were “ok”?
Context is everything…
The insurance company wants to argue that a truly injured person wouldn’t vacation after a car accident. They may also argue that an injured party would not smile in a beach photo. The insurance company will try to argue that a hurt person would not post that they were “ok” if they were hurt. Insurance companies use information like this gathered from social media to argue that either minor or no injuries were really sustained. This is very deceptive. This is what insurance companies do. They use everything they can to try to devalue a plaintiff’s case.
Do people typically grimace in their vacation photos? For instance would someone post a picture that made them look like they were not enjoying their trip? What if the person only went on vacation because they had non-refundable tickets? Lastly, what does that statement about them being “ok” really mean? Writing “ok” on a social media post could mean that there were no critical injuries. Writing “ok” on a social media post could also mean that the person was not feeling injured at the time of the writing. Without context, all information is subject to twisting and misconception. Don’t give the insurance company information that they can use against you!
Don’t Make Your Attorney’s Job Even Harder
Attorneys make their cases with the facts and clients that they have to work with. Some people think that attorneys can provide context and explain away all of the bad facts, pictures, videos or online conversations. Sometimes they can. A better strategy is to just to not put them in the position where they have to account for a client’s negative social media. If you know social media affects personal injury cases why take that risk?
How You Look Online
The social media previously discussed has been mostly content that directly relates to the accident. This includes injury photos and posts made shortly after the accident. Additionally posts that can directly rebut the person’s injury claim are relevant as well. But what about their other posts that do not have anything to do with the accident? Do those posts matter?
Experienced personal injury lawyers tell their clients to be mindful of their online activity as it relates to their injury case but also as it relates to their overall online reputation exhibited by their social media. Injury attorneys know that social media affects personal injury cases. It is advisable to not post video or photos that can make you look bad. Of course this is subjective, but always err on the side of not posting something that could make you look bad.
Insurance companies use negative information to strengthen their own cases. Your lawyer can challenge the introduction of evidence; however, it is a best practice to just not engage in social media that could be damaging to your reputation or the way that you could be portrayed in court. The following are just a few examples of harmful social media content:
- Drug or Alcohol Use
- Posting of Controversial or Offensive Content
- Online Bullying
The takeaway from this is two-fold. If it could be harmful in anyway to your case, do not post it or share it online. Secondly, if your reputation online is less than stellar, consider taking those posts down.
Remember that the insurance company will try to find your social media. Also, know that they will use it to make you and your case look bad. Even without social media, the insurance company may try to fight you on liability and your damages. They will do so because they want to prevent you from obtaining the compensation you deserve. If they will put up a fight without your negative social media, imagine how much more difficult it cab be for having to account for what you have said or done online. Why give them anything extra that they can use to hurt your case?
Conclusion: Social Media Affects Personal Injury Cases
Don’t ignore your social media history. For instance, when you do speak to your attorney, be honest and up front with them about your social media. Your attorney will ask you for a lot of information. The topic of social media will come up. Help them understand the whole picture regarding your online presence. Your attorney can not help if they do not have the information. Lastly, know that what you and your lawyer talk about will be kept in confidence.
Accident victims constantly face challenges from an opposing insurance company. At Scholle Law, our lawyers know the challenges you face. Our lawyers know how to fight hard for their clients. We know how insurance companies work. We understand the strategies they try to use. The insurance companies will fight hard to limit your compensation. Don’t fight them alone. Call Scholle Law so we can protect your rights. Let us help you fight for all that you deserve!
Contact Scholle Law for answers. Your initial consultation is free.