While it can be a great platform to connect with others, social media can also have unexpected consequences, especially in legal matters such as personal injury cases. What may seem like a harmless post or photo can significantly impact the outcome of settlement negotiations and jeopardize the potential compensation a person may receive.
When someone sustains injuries due to another party's negligence or wrongdoing, they may file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. During this process, both parties negotiate to reach a settlement agreement that is satisfactory to all involved. However, social media posts can play a role in either bolstering or undermining the plaintiff's case, potentially affecting the settlement amount.
The Power of Social Media Evidence
In recent years, courts have increasingly recognized the value of social media posts as admissible evidence. Lawyers and insurance adjusters are now known to scour the plaintiff's social media accounts for any information that could be used to dispute their claims. A seemingly innocent picture of a plaintiff engaging in physical activities after an accident can be misconstrued to downplay the severity of their injuries. Likewise, statements made in posts or comments can be taken out of context to question the credibility of the plaintiff's account of the incident.
For example, imagine a person claims to have suffered a back injury that severely limits their mobility and quality of life. If they post photos or status updates showing them engaging in physically demanding activities like playing sports or lifting heavy objects, the defense could use this as evidence to argue that the injuries are not as severe as alleged, and thus, they should not be entitled to significant compensation.
Privacy Settings Aren't Foolproof
One might assume that setting their social media accounts to private would protect their posts from being used against them in legal proceedings. However, this is not entirely true. Even though privacy settings can limit public access to the posts, they cannot prevent someone from sharing or capturing the content. Friends, followers, or acquaintances may have access to a plaintiff's posts and might share them with the opposing party or their legal representatives.
Tips for Using Social Media Wisely During a Personal Injury Claim
- Avoid Posting About the Incident: Immediately after an accident, it's essential to refrain from discussing the details of the incident on social media. Anything said in the heat of the moment can be misconstrued and used against the plaintiff later.
- Be Cautious About Sharing Updates: During the claims process, it's best to avoid sharing detailed updates about your medical condition, treatment progress, or legal situation on social media. The defense may use these updates to challenge the seriousness of your injuries or undermine your claim.
- Review Existing Posts: Before pursuing a personal injury claim, it's a good idea to review your existing social media posts and remove anything that could be misinterpreted or used against you.
- Limit Posting and Tagging: While your case is ongoing, consider limiting your social media activity, including posting and tagging in photos. Ask friends and family to avoid tagging you in their posts as well.
- Speak With Your Attorney: If you have doubts about what is appropriate to share on social media during your claim, don't hesitate to consult your attorney. They can provide valuable guidance to protect your case.
Social media can be a double-edged sword during personal injury settlement negotiations. While it allows individuals to express themselves freely, it also exposes them to potential risks when pursuing legal claims. Plaintiffs must remain cautious and mindful of their social media presence throughout the claims process.
Remember, once something is posted online, it can be challenging to retract or control its dissemination. Being prudent and circumspect on social media can safeguard your personal injury claim, help ensure a fair settlement negotiation, and protect your right to the compensation you deserve.
At Farmer & Klopfer, we specialize in personal injury law and understand the intricacies of social media's influence on settlement negotiations. If you require professional guidance or assistance throughout your personal injury claim, our experienced team is here to help.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and let us fight for the compensation you deserve.