In the digital age, our online presence extends to various social media platforms, becoming a collection of personal moments, opinions, and memories. However, when it comes to personal injury lawsuits, what you share on social media can have unexpected consequences. Inadvertently posted photos, status updates, or comments may be scrutinized by opposing parties to undermine your claims or dispute the extent of your injuries. As the legal landscape evolves, understanding the potential effect of your digital footprint on a personal injury case becomes crucial. This delicate interplay between the virtual and legal realms highlights the importance of exercising caution and discretion in navigating social media during a legal proceeding.
What NOT to post on social media
Here’s a simple guide as to what you should and should NOT post:
- Don’t talk about the injury: Avoid sharing specific details about the injury, especially things that might sound like you’re admitting it was your fault. Talking about the incident in question could also lead to your friends and followers commenting, which could lead to unflattering details about you coming to light. These comments could affect your standing in the lawsuit.
- Turn off geotagging if possible: As many social media sites automatically offer your location to your friends and followers, the defense could use this against you, especially if you go somewhere other than the hospital right after you received your injury.
- Keep medical stuff private: Don’t post updates about your injuries or health. Insurance companies might use this info to argue that your injuries aren’t as bad as you say.
- Don’t discuss the lawsuit: Keep your legal matters private. Don’t talk about what you’re planning to do or any deals you’re working on. Don’t ask for or give legal advice on social media. Talk to your lawyer privately about that stuff.
- Watch your activities: Be careful about posting things that could make it seem like you’re not as hurt as you claim. For instance, if you say you’re in a lot of pain, but you post pictures of yourself doing something physical like going for a hike or spending an hour at the gym, the defense could latch onto that.
- Be nice on social media: Avoid saying bad things about the other person involved. It can come back to hurt your case.
Remember, what you post online can be used against you in court. So, it’s a good idea to check with your lawyer before you share anything related to your personal injury case on social media.
Can the police access my social media account?
Absolutely. Law enforcement may have the ability to access your social media account under certain circumstances. However, it’s essential to understand the legal context.
Situations where authorities can access your social media account include:
- Public information: If your social media profile is public, meaning anyone can view it without restrictions, the police can access and view the information you’ve shared publicly.
- Search warrants: In some cases, law enforcement may obtain a search warrant to access private information on your social media accounts. This typically requires them to demonstrate to a judge that there’s probable cause to believe the information is relevant to a criminal investigation.
- Voluntary disclosure: If you willingly share information with the police, either by reporting an incident or providing evidence voluntarily, they can use that information in their investigation.
- Emergency situations: In emergency situations, where there’s an imminent threat to life or public safety, law enforcement may access your social media accounts without a warrant.
Let’s look at this example given by the American Bar Association about how a private social media account was used against a person filing a car accident lawsuit:
Courts have allowed discovery of social media information when litigants can show its relevance to the case. In New York, for example, a former semiprofessional basketball player filed suit alleging that he became disabled due to an automobile accident. The court held that access to private social media accounts was permitted to obtain information such as photographs and other evidence of physical activity. The court provided limitations on time and subject matter, however, in that access was limited to information related to depicting physical activity posted after the incident. The court noted that private social media information is discoverable to the extent it contradicts a plaintiff’s alleged claims.
It’s important to be aware of your privacy settings on social media and to think carefully about what you share, especially if you’re involved in a legal matter. If you have concerns about the privacy of your social media information in a specific legal context, consulting with a legal professional is advisable. Again, the best course of action is to avoid posting about anything to do with your lawsuit, maybe even to avoid posting on social media altogether if possible.
If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, it is important that you reach out to a knowledgeable and experienced legal team. At Wilt Injury Lawyers, we can advise you on what is safe and not safe to post on your social media accounts. With your cooperation, we can help you recover damages for your injuries, securing rightful compensation. To schedule a free consultation, call our Kentucky offices or fill out our contact form. We serve clients across Kentucky from our offices in Lexington and Louisville.