Over the past decade, it’s been well documented how Americans are using social media to seek out information and interact with others. In fact, according to Pew Research, a majority of Americans now say they get their news via social media. We’re using social media in the context of work, whether that means taking a mental break, doing research or seeking employment, while also still engaging in massive numbers on a personal level.
Just as social media has provided a platform for users to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences, many are also turning to social media to share details after they have been injured in an accident. However, at Weinstein & Cohen we encourage all clients to be acutely aware of what they post on social media while involved in a personal injury claim because of the potential affects a Facebook update or an Instagram picture can have. That’ why we’ve instituted a best practices guideline for clients that want to use social media while pursuing a claim.
Social Media Can be Detrimental to Your Personal Injury Claim
People who are pursuing a personal injury claim are typically doing so because they have suffered a physical injury. As such, they are typically seeking two things:
- Recovery of expenses associated with medical care, hospital stay, etc.
- Damages associated with pain and suffering resulting from that physical injury
In order to substantiate these assertions, a claimant will usually call upon medical experts, specialists, witnesses and family to testify on their behalf. But consider this – a claimant is seeking damages based upon an accident that supposedly resulted in chronic pain and a loss of mobility preventing them from enjoying their passion in life – riding a bike. The defense will scour social media searching for evidence to the contrary and if they do find images of the claimant riding a bike and smiling with friends, a judge is certainly more prone to ruling in the defense’s favor.
Social Media Can be used to Disprove Emotional Distress
Physical injury is not the only thing that social media can be used for. In many cases, a claimant can also be compensated for the emotional injury sustained through physical harm. The defense will often turn to social media to disprove emotional distress, depression or isolationism.
Rather than the obvious (pictures of a claimant enjoying life), the defense may use something as innocuous as happy birthday wish to show a connection between friends or relatives to reduce the amount they are liable for.
Is Social Media Public Record?
The simple answer is yes. Your social media presence is public record and anything you post on the Internet or that someone posts about you can be used as evidence.
What Should You Do?
After an accident, a best practice is to limit or stop social media engagement. You’ll want to reduce your digital footprint as much as possible in order to keep the focus on your claim.