Being in a crash is traumatic, and seeking the support of friends and loved ones is completely normal. After you have surveyed the damage, treated your injuries and returned home, your first instinct may be to post about your experiences on social media.
This is where people can get in trouble.
Sharing too much information about your crash on social media may jeopardize your personal injury claim. To protect yourself, follow the tips below when using social media after a crash.
1. Your instinct should be not to post anything.
If you are unsure whether you should post about your crash or not, the answer is not to do it. Very few positives can come out of posting about a crash. The person who hit you, and his or her insurance company, will be scouring the internet looking for anything they can to make you look bad. At best, posting about your crash gives them ‘low hanging fruit’ to say you were not hurt because you were able to post on social media. At worst, they may be able to use the information you post as evidence against you.
2. Protect yourself with high security settings.
Before you post anything (even if it’s unrelated to the crash) on any social media website, adjust your security settings to the highest possible level. Although this measure won’t make it impossible for the defendant’s lawyers to find things you post, it will make it more difficult for them. Nonetheless, to be safe, you should still assume that anything you post will fall into the hands of people you cannot trust.
3. Review your friend list.
Don’t post anything on your social media profile until you have carefully looked through your Friends and Followers to make sure you know all of the people. If you have friends you don’t know personally or don’t trust, consider deleting them until the case is over. Likewise, you should not accept any friend requests from people you don’t know or trust while your case is still pending.
4. Don’t share photos.
Don’t share any photos of the crash or of your injuries, especially if they are photos that haven’t already been included as evidence in your case. The defendant’s lawyers may come across these photos and use them against you in court.
5. Don’t discuss the case.
Do not discuss the specifics of the crash, your case, or your communications with your attorney online under any circumstances. Doing so may cause you to lose your attorney-client privilege. Even if someone asks you questions about the case, you should resist the temptation to answer, even if you are communicating privately.
6. Think carefully about everything you post.
Even some posts that seem unrelated to your crash can still be harmful to your claim. For example, if you post about feeling good or doing better after your crash, the defendant’s attorneys may use it to undermine the injuries you have. Likewise, if you post about engaging in physical activity, such as hiking, skiing, jogging or even gardening, the defendant’s attorneys may use it to make the court believe your physical condition isn’t as serious as you have claimed. Moreover, if you make an off-hand comment or joke about the crash, the defendant’s attorneys will explain that you do not think the crash is truly serious. Thus, you should be careful about everything you post on social media while your case remains unsettled. Before you make a post, ask yourself if there is any possible way it could be used against you.
As a spoiler alert, the answer is usually yes.
7. When in doubt, talk to your lawyer.
If you aren’t sure about how you should be using social media while your personal injury case is still pending, talk to your attorney about the issue. Your attorney will provide you with advice specific to your situation so that you can be sure you are protected.
A Real Case Study
I had a case in which a drunk driver caused a crash that resulted in crippling injuries to my client. The drunk driver had to serve 6 months in jail for this irresponsible conduct. On the day she was released from jail, her friends had a party to celebrate her release. They posted pictures on Facebook from the party that showed her clearly drunk; she was drinking alcohol from bottles and a funnel. At her deposition, she forgot about posting the photos on Facebook. She testified that she had learned a lesson from her incarceration and had not had any alcohol drink since the crash.
The Facebook pictures clearly proved that this was not true. Obviously, her conduct and her use of the social media seriously compromised her insurance company’s defense of the case.
While this is an example of a defendant’s social media posts hurting her case, the same can be true about you if you are injured in a crash. We did not take the pictures of the defendant out of context in our case, but that does not mean that a defense attorney will not do so. Any pictures you post will be analyzed. This therefore emphasizes the need to (1) always tell the truth, and (2) not post anything that can be used against you.
Defendants and others who might injure you may try to use hopeful or optimistic posts on social media, and photographs, against you to suggest that you did not suffer injury-even though you are suffering severe pain and injuries. So, be cautious with the things you post online.
If you were injured in a crash, you need legal assistance. Please contact Taos Injury Lawyers to learn more about your options.