These days, social media is an accepted way of life. People use it to update friends and family members, and some use it as their sole point of contact instead of email or phone.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015 more than 65 percent of adults use social media, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
In another study, the average daily usage of social media was 135 minutes per day in 2017, which was an increase from the 126 minutes per day in 2016.
With social media so prevalent, one must wonder how social media would affect a slip and fall case. For some, social media will not interfere. For others, social media could play a pivotal role – and possibly lead to the demise of your case entirely.
If you have already initiated an injury lawsuit or you plan to pursue a claim, knowing how your selfies and status updates affect your case is critical. You may have the urge to share your life’s story, including how the case is going, online – but do not. When you are in a personal injury lawsuit, your life is open to scrutiny. The other party will consider everything, including social media, to lower the settlement.
Social Media Is an Unrivaled Source of Evidence for Ft. Lauderdale Accident Cases
A few years ago, using someone’s social media account against them was uncharted territory. Many judges were uneasy about allowing defense attorneys to enter social statuses in as evidence. But as it becomes more popular, several cases have allowed someone’s personal social media profile as evidence.
Now with the case law to back up the assertion, what you say and do on Facebook, Twitter, and even Google can influence the outcome of your case.
While what happened at the accident does not change, the injuries you suffered and your credibility can indeed change with each selfie and status update you provide social media. Also, once it is out there, it is hard to erase. Therefore, you must think with caution any time you plan to post on social media while you are amidst an injury claim.
Perception versus What Happened
Most injury victims are very honest about the injuries they suffer and the effect of the accident on their life. However, it is not about the actual damages; instead, it is the perception. How will a judge or jury perceive your injuries and how you claim they affect your life based on your social media posts?
You claim that you are in constant pain, cannot enjoy family or friends, and you cannot work. Your social media status updates may show you smiling in pictures, talking about what a great day it is, or even have a smiley face emoticon. Defense attorneys will use this to paint a picture of someone who is exaggerating their injuries and who is not in the pain they claim – even if it is untrue.
In a personal injury case, it is all about perceptions – how the judge and jury perceive you, your credibility, and your injuries. Social media will often be used against you and defense attorneys are good at twisting how something looks.
Naturally, you are not going to post a picture of yourself depressed, in the hospital, or looking your worst. You want to look good on social media, and it is human nature to try to impress. Yet, all the impressive pictures and status updates work against you in an injury case.
You might be smiling through the pain at a friend’s backyard BBQ or trying to hide your depression at your child’s soccer game. The defense will use that smile to state that your injuries, pain, and suffering are not what you want the jury to believe.
There Is No Expectation of Privacy
You might think that your social media account is private and therefore, should not be used against you. When you post something online, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Thus, the defense has the right to seek out your profile and use what they find against you.
Also, there is a presumption that if you set your profile to “private” that means no one can use that information. The courts have rejected this argument numerous times because you are still sharing content with other people – even if your friend’s list has five individuals. The courts stand firm that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when you share online, period.
How You Can Protect Yourself and the Integrity of Your Case
The specifics of your case should never be on social media for any reason. The only party you should openly discuss your situation with is your attorney. If you can, you should refrain from posting entirely and keep your status private.
If you do want to continue using social media, you must be cautious about what you post and think of everything from the defense’s standpoint. How could it be twisted against you? Some things to never post on social media:
- Information or conversations you have had with your attorney
- Details about treatments or your prognosis
- Any details of phone calls you have had regarding the case, discussions with insurance companies, and your feelings about the insurance company
- Frustration with the case or how the case is progressing
Limit the posts and photos you use entirely. Do not let friends or family tag you in posts or pictures either, including old photos. There have been instances where old images are brought up in court because a person was tagged in them.
Avoid accepting any new friend requests while you are in the middle of your case. Sometimes defense attorneys will hire investigators to create fake profiles so that they can access your private social media account.
Injured in an Accident? Contact an Attorney
It is always best to consult with an attorney after a slip and fall accident. Insurance companies and attorneys highly contest slip and fall cases. Therefore, you may find your social media status updates play a more important role in the case than expected.
To protect yourself, hire an injury advocate. Schedule a consultation today with the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. You can schedule your no-obligation meeting at 954-677-0155 or request more information online.