Even if you think your social media is private, there are ways investigators, attorneys, juries, and even judges can access pictures, posts, and personal information. This makes it crucial to think before you go talking online.
Social media is one of the best ways to keep family and friends updated about your life, but a single post can jeopardize your Kentucky personal injury claim if used improperly. In fact, the words and photos you share may even end up as an exhibit at trial. Your personal injury attorney will encourage you to be mindful of social media's possible impact on your case and understand the following information about managing your online presence after an accident.
How Can Social Media Affect an Injury Claim?
After a serious injury or accident, you may want to tell loved ones about your experience and provide updates on your recovery. However, what you share with friends and family could also end up in the hands of someone who does not have your best interests at heart. In most Kentucky personal injury claims, the injured plaintiff is filing a lawsuit or disability benefits claim and seeking the financial compensation they need to cover medical bills and lost wages. The insurance company, government agency, or opposing party will try to disprove your claims or at least show that your injuries are not as severe as your case states. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a simple online search for your social media profiles. If the defense finds your social media accounts, they will look for anything that will undermine your claims. Even simple things can be taken out of context and used against you. There is nothing to stop them from accessing this public information either; the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct explain that attorneys are expected to use technology such as social media to build their cases.
What Is an Example of Social Media Affecting a Claim?
Imagine that you have hurt your back in a serious car accident. You seek the help of a Kentucky personal injury attorney and file a claim against the driver and his insurance company. After the wreck, the defense finds photos of you holding your child and doing yard work. The driver's attorney will argue that you could not have hurt your back too badly if you can continue to do these activities. In reality, lifting your child may have made your back injury worse, and you might only be able to do yard work for a short period of time before your pain becomes unbearable. Nonetheless, the defense has now successfully weakened your claim in front of a judge or jury by turning your own social media posts against you.
What About Emotional Distress Claims?
Social media can be deceiving because many people choose to post only the best parts of their lives. Even if you have suffered a serious injury that has changed your life, you may decide to focus your social media posts on the positive things in your life. In fact, it may even be a good coping mechanism for you. However, when you are claiming emotional distress, anxiety, or depression in a lawsuit, these simple, pleasant posts can come back to haunt you. If a jury or judge sees your social media and notices only cheerful posts, they may conclude that your life has not been negatively affected by your injury as much as your personal injury lawyer would like the court to think. This can, in turn, undermine your emotional distress claim.
How Can These Risks Be Avoided?
The combination of social media and a personal injury claim can often end in legal disaster. Discuss the following tips with your Kentucky personal injury attorney to maintain the integrity of your case and increase your chances of receiving a settlement:
- Stop posting or completely close your account. The best way to keep social media from affecting your claim is to shut down your account, suspend it temporarily, or simply stop posting. If you want to keep friends and family updated on your life, pick up the phone and call them or meet in person.
- Recognize the legal weakness of privacy settings.You may increase your privacy settings to keep your posts out of sight before your trial, but this can offer a false sense of security. Many court cases have shown that "private" social media profiles simply are not the same as "not public." Once you have shared your posts with anyone, they are considered public information and can be used against you in court.
- Choose your words carefully and do not post about your injuries or accident.If you choose to keep your social media accounts active in the wake of an accident or injury, be aware that everything you say could be used in court. You may be surprised who is keeping tabs on your activity and waiting for you to slip up.
If you are interested in filing a personal injury claim in Kentucky, contact Edwards & Kautz at 866-795-5087 to schedule a free legal consultation. The personal injury attorneys at our firm can help you file a file a lawsuit or disability benefits claim on your behalf.