The temptation is overwhelming for some, but you can be your own worst enemy when oversharing on social media in the midst of a personal injury claim. Before the Internet Age, it was a more difficult and time consuming process for opposing counsel to dig up dirt on the other side’s client. These days, it seems all you have to do is follow social media accounts and wait for the person to screw up. And often it’s a short wait indeed. Exactly how can online habits torpedo a personal injury claim? In more ways than you can imagine. Just keep reading.
Social Media Addicts
The scope of our interaction with social media is staggering. Pew Research estimates in 2014 revealed that two-thirds of adult Americans interact on mega-sharing sites like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and the like. That number increases to 74 percent of all adults online and 89 percent of adults between the ages of 18-29. The opportunity to (over) share is certainly available. And the problem is not confined to information divulged during the course of your legal complaint. Just because you delete an anger-fueled rant from your Facebook account doesn’t mean it’s really gone. Scary, isn’t it?
According to Miami personal injury attorney, Jose M. Francisco, one of the easiest ways to get yourself busted is through visual evidence. Take a typical scenario where you allege personal injury sustained through the neglect of an individual or company. In court, you claim your back has been injured so severely that it’s all you can do to creep to the mailbox and back every day.
All well and good. Maybe you really were injured but a judge and jury may find it hard to agree with the seriousness of the allegation when a video surfaces on Facebook of you scaling giant Aztec ruins like a spider monkey on your Mexican vacation last week. Or wielding a garden hoe like Conan the Barbarian swinging a broadsword whilst toiling in your garden. Just like that – the few seconds it takes to post a picture to Facebook – is how quickly you can ruin your shot at a sizable compensatory settlement. And if you think people aren’t watching, ready to run to the other side with contrary evidence, that’s too big a chance to take.
Some people can’t take a breath without posting a status update to their social media accounts. No harm, no foul, right? Not so fast. Maybe only slightly less damning than a picture is a claim that you’re engaged in an activity that runs counter to your alleged injury. Got a broken leg? Probably shouldn’t put online that you just checked into Monte’s Monumental Ski Resort to claim your spot on the Black Diamond slope run. It seems like common sense, but if you live long enough you realize that common sense isn’t as common as it should be.
The Blame Game
Everybody surely knows the guy or gal that can’t make it through a single day without going off on a rant of some sort. Guess what? Your gotta-get-it-off-my-chest soliloquy might inadvertently admit guilt or cast doubt on the “official” version of events as attested to in court. This is red meat for opposing counsel, and don’t think they don’t have a paralegal or receptionist keeping a close eye on anything associated with your name that pops up online. Do yourself a favor and zip it. Better yet, the best advice to protect yourself as much as possible is by taking the following precautions the moment you suspect you may be involved in a personal injury lawsuit:
1. Turn on your internal censor when posting or commenting to social media.
2. Change social media settings from “public” to “private.”
3. Block any application that automatically shares your information.
4. Remember that “delete” doesn’t always mean something is gone.
The bottom line is to keep in mind that your social media behavior IS fair game to the other side in the event of a court action, and they WILL likely pursue it. While the admissibility of anything posted to accounts is still a legal gray area, hard evidence like images or video have a good chance of making it as evidence.
Hard as it might be to do, your best bet is to stay off social media websites for the duration of the case.
If you find yourself in need of an experienced Miami personal injury attorney who can ably represent your interests in the event of personal injury, call us today for a free consultation.