Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram help us keep in touch with friends and family and provide easy ways of sharing moments of our lives with loved ones around the world. But these sites can also cause unforeseen damage to victims involved in personal injury cases.
Most people pursuing a personal injury case have suffered a serious physical injury and are seeking compensation for damages related to the injury. The amount of damages awarded will factor in economic costs like medical bills and lost wages, along with non-economic costs that quantify the impact the injury had on the victim's life including physical and emotional suffering.
Calculating these damages involves a complicated process, and attorneys for the defendant will work hard to lessen these costs and to downplay the impact of the injury. Most people use social media to promote the good parts of their lives, not to dramatize the worst moments. But if a victim appears in a photo of a beach vacation or fishing trip days after an injury occurred, defense attorneys can use the photos against the victim and argue that the injury had a smaller impact than the victim claims.
If a victim has been through a traumatic accident, she may be eligible to collect damages for her emotional suffering related to the injury. Appearing in a smiling photo with friends may be a perfectly healthy way of coping with the stress of an accident, but if accessed by a defendant's attorneys the picture can be turned against the victim.
Some people set their accounts to “private”, believing that they are safe to post anything to close family and friends. But attorneys may still be able to access pictures through a friend's site, and more importantly, attorneys can ask for warrants to search through all material on an individual's social media account from before and after an accident.
Attorneys for plaintiffs and defendants can gain access to social media accounts if the attorneys are able to prove that those requests are “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”. They can even gain access to your password to search through personal information from these websites.
Going to the extreme and shutting down or suspending a social media site in the wake of a personal injury claim can be just as damaging as actual pictures. Defense attorneys can convince a judge or jury that the victim is trying to hide information. The best way to handle social media sites after an injury is:
- Set the account to private (but don't delete it!)
- Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know
- Stop uploading any content that could be used in court to lessen the impact of your injury
- Do not discuss any details of your case on social media sites
- Delete posts that might harm your case
- Ask friends and family to stop posting about you
- Make your privacy settings stronger
It is best to completely refrain from social media in the time surrounding a personal injury claim.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of another, you may have a personal injury lawsuit and might be eligible for compensation. Call the offices of Luvell L. Glanton at 615-244-4511 to schedule a free consultation.