In this share-happy day and age, it’s common to post updates to our social media any chance we get. Even the smallest, most insignificant events of our daily life are routinely posted on Facebook or Twitter. So, when something notable like an accident or injury occurs, it may seem like a no-brainer to write about it on social media. However, many don’t realize these posts can affect their ability to hold others accountable for negligence that caused the injury.These cases can be complicated, especially as it pertains to deciding how much damages should be awarded to a plaintiff. So, before you fire off that Tweet or post a photo on Instagram, consider how social media could affect a personal injury case.
Social Media Could Impact your Personal Injury Claim
Injured people can’t ask for injuries to go away. All they can do is collect money to offset harms and losses. Physical harms could be anything from a concussion, to broken bones, to even wrongful death. Mental harms and losses could be suffering from PTSD, anxiety and depression or other significant effects. Any money awarded will cover debts like hospital bills, physical therapy, medical equipment like a wheelchair, or lost wages from missing work.
Social media could call your claim of harm or loss into question if a post or photo conflicts with the evidence presented in court made in court. For example, if a plaintiff claims he or she has been unable to walk after a car accident, but then posts photos of themselves running a marathon, this may call the make them look like a liar. Even if these photos were taken prior to the accident, the post date will be up for debate. If you’re reading this a little too late and have posted something to social media, don’t panic and don’t delete it. Set your account to private and don’t accept any friends requests from strangers.
Mental anguish is a far more subjective claim to prove in court. Claims for your suffering are more subjective, therefore harder to prove. Unlike physical injuries discoverable by bills and testimony, damages for suffering are determined by the jury of peers and their response to both the narrative and the evidence. In one case from New York state, a woman filed a suit after a chair in her office broke, causing her to fall. The attorneys argued that she had been stuck at home unable to spend time with friends or loved ones, and this caused the client a great deal of anguish and unhappiness. However, the defense presented photos taken from her Facebook in which she was smiling. They also mentioned her use of smiling and heart emoticons as a reason to not grant her a recovery for her emotional damages.
Is Social Media Admissible in Court?
In short, the answer here is yes. In the previously mentioned case, the judge ruled that the plaintiff had “no reasonable expectation of privacy,” when it comes to any social media posts. By sharing a photograph, video, or written opinion, you are essentially entering the document into the public domain. Because these sites are free, companies like Facebook or Twitter actually own the content you post on your page. In fact, even if your page is set to private it can still be used as evidence in the court of law, just as long as it wasn’t accessed in a deceitful way, such as creating a fake profile in order to view the posts.
How Should I Use Social Media During a Personal Injury Case?
If you’ve been injured and have begun or are considering a lawsuit, your social media posts should be limited to just the basics. Do not post photographic evidence of the accident or your injuries to the site. Avoid discussing the details of a case on social media, whether it’s something you’ve discussed with your attorneys or your own personal opinion on the case.
The Indianapolis personal injury attorneys at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell want to help you get what you need to move forward in life with peace of mind. From listening to your story to fighting for you in court, we’re your advocates. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a personal injury and believe you have a case, contact us today for a free consultation.