February 7, 2019
A personal injury case refers to a legal dispute whereby a person is injured due to a fall, deep wound, etc. or due to an accident caused by another party.
In regards to social media, most people want to present themselves in a flattering way when they post on social media. However one of the issues with social media is that it may misrepresent how a person truly acts or behaves in their day-to-day life. Furthermore, the misrepresentation of their true selves and/or intent can actually backfire, as social media can be used to expose their lies. Here, we break down the impact that social media can have on a personal injury claim.
Is Social Media Activity Admissible in Court?
Courts in some countries have taken a restrictive and nuanced approach to the admissibility of evidence that is taken from social media accounts or websites. However, the majority of courts will use social media postings and the like as admissible evidence if it is determined that such evidence may be pertinent to the case at hand. As such, the evidence collected from social media may be used against you in a court of law to disprove claims of emotional distress, anxiety, and/or depression.
How Can Social Media Posts Hurt You in a Personal Injury Case?
One of the biggest issues with postings on social media websites is that they are not private. As such, anything that you post on social media can be accessed by insurance companies and possibly be used against you to disprove claims of mental and/or physical distress. For instance, if you were injured in a motorcycle accident and filed a claim to receive compensation for the injuries sustained then some of your social media postings may be used against you. You may have posted a video of you swimming at the local pool, or a photo of you riding on your motorbike just a few days after you filed your personal injury claim. Even a seemingly innocuous status update saying that you had a fun night out with your family may be used against you in a court of law.
Moreover, the recent Facebook data breach is yet another reason why social media can cause issues pertaining to personal injury cases. Over 50 million Facebook users had their personal information exposed in one of the biggest data breaches in history. Hence, even if you are confident that your postings will be kept private, data breaches are something that you may become a victim of in the not-too-distant future.
Some insurance companies will even hire private investigators in order to try and find information that they can use against you in court. For instance, they may create a fake account, pretending to be an old high school friend, in order to try and befriend you. Once they have entered your social circle they may be able to access some of your private information and file away any evidence that they have found until your court appearance. In sum, Google, and other web-based companies collect large amounts of personal data that you may not be aware of. Everything from where you have travelled to or from recently to your personal search history may be collected over the course of several years. Even incognito/clandestine search queries may be vulnerable to data breaches by hackers or a virus, so you need to be very prudent when posting comments, videos, or images on any social media portal.
How Can You Avoid the Negative Effects of Social Media Use?
The simplest way to avoid the negative impact of social media on your personal injury case is to resist the urge to post anything on social media during the duration of your legal proceedings. In fact, even setting your privacy settings to the highest possible level will not be enough to protect your personal data since a court order would allow the courts to access your social media profile at any time. Also, an apologetic post could backfire because it would indicate culpability or remorse on your part, which can be used against you.
You should also resist that temptation to bad mouth the party that you feel wronged you, as such negative posts may make you look spiteful or vindictive. In fact, the accused may countersue you for libel if the comments are especially scathing. You should also remember to ask your friends, family, and co-workers, to also avoid any social media postings related to your accident or injury, and to also remind them to set their profiles to private as well. Finally, any new friend requests should be turned down during the time period of the incident in question, as they may be requests from machiavellian private investigators who were hired by an insurance company to try and collect personal data/evidence from you.
Seek Advice from an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be fully aware of all of the strategies and tactics that insurance companies employ in order to avoid paying full or even partial compensation to their personal injury victims. They will also use their vast breadth of knowledge of litigation to fight arduously for your rights so that you receive the financial compensation that you rightfully deserve. Many are also tech-savvy individuals who understand the complex inner mechanisms of social media, corporate loopholes, and bureaucratic red tape, and will be able to help you navigate through them to protect you and your loved ones during the trying and tumultuous period.
Rebecca Hill, worked as the community coordinator for many small businesses across Canada. Writes about social media trends and technology tips. Currently Working as the Community Manager at SG Injury Law.