Social Media And Personal Injury Claims: A Plaintiff's Guide For Responsible Use


If you are plaintiff seeking damages for a personal injury, you need to know how to best win your case. Usually, this mean compiling evidence that helps to support the fact that your injury has created expense and inconvenience. Your lawyer will compile medical records, evidence for loss of income, insurance information, and at-fault liability evidence. However, all this work could be for nothing if you aren't responsible when it comes to social media use. Whatever is published on these public websites can be used in court, and some of the content can also be used as grounds for subpoenas for further information that might not have come to light otherwise. 

Here are some basic social media use guidelines for you to follow as your case progresses.

1. Don't post photos of the accident. 

No matter what caused your injury, its best to avoid taking photos of the scene and posting them to Instagram. If you slipped on grapes at the supermarket, don't upload a post-accident photo of the incident with a caption that reads, "this is what happens when you let 3-year-olds carry the grapes. #butterfingers." This simple post may seem innocent, but if you later discover your toddler wasn't the one who spilled grapes all over the produce section, and it was in fact the grocery store who failed to clean them up properly, this simple caption could take all the wind out of your case's sales.

The same rule applies to slick walkways, car accident photos, personal pictures of the injury, or personal videos. Just don't post them.

2. Refrain from posting photos after your accident. 

Typical social media posts include pictures with friends at wedding receptions, pictures of personal accomplishments, or recaps of a great or busy day. Consider these typical photo-based posts and how they could ruin your case:

  • a victory photo at the top of a hike. If you have a serious injury, you might load up on pain pills and join your buddies on a hike, but posting your celebratory victory shot will ultimately lead to failure. A judge can easily decide that if you can complete a strenuous hike, your injury is not serious or even real.
  • a photo of a newly painted room or recovered piece of furniture. DIY feats are worth celebrating, but they will leave you high and dry in the courtroom. Labor-intensive tasks like painting, building, or even mowing your own lawn can reduce the power of other evidence, like accounts of the accident and doctor's reports. 
  • enjoying an evening in the bar with friends. A photo of yourself enjoying your life the same as usual paints an different picture than one of living in constant pain because of your injury. 

If possible, go back and remove old photos that could influence your case as well. Old injuries, bruises, and doctor visits should definitely be deleted. 

3. Word your posts carefully. 

Words mean everything, especially in a personal injury case. Social media sharing with thoughtlessly worded posts can weaken your case. Consider these examples:

  • "Been on my feet all day chasing my toddler. Can't wait for bedtime. #exhausted." Even though this post may not even be fully accurate -- you probably weren't on your feet every minute of every day -- the defense could easily use it to prove your injury is not serious.
  • "Can't wait to get back to work. The summer off has been great, but I'm stoked to get back into teaching." Part of a personal injury defense is how your livelihood is affected. In reality, you may only be able to work half days or you'll need new accommodations to do your job. Posting as though you are returning to your job just like normal will hurt your case.
  • "Keepin' it real with my roommates. Can't believe it's been five years. Next stop: Paris." If you are planning trips, traveling, meeting friends, or other normal activities, it may not cause your case to be thrown out the window, but it could affect your settlement amount. 
  • "Winning the case. Soon all my student loans will be paid off. #thankyoulawyers." Bragging about a case can lead to trouble. Follow the advice of your lawyer, and don't talk about the case outside of court.

Instead, keep posts non-specific and neutral. Try to avoid exaggerations and hyperbole, and if you must post, try to make sure the personal information you're portraying online is true-to-life with your current challenges. For additional advice, talk to your personal injury attorney.


12 September 2016

Noni and the Accident

My name is Noni. When I was in college, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. My life was never in danger, but I did break a few bones and had a lot of huge medical bills. I was hoping I wouldn't have to get involved with an attorney, but unfortunately, it came down to that. I used a family friend who is an accident attorney to get some compensation. A few years later, I was hit while riding my bike and had to go through the same process. I suppose I'm lucky to be alive. And it's thanks to accident attorneys that I have been able to put my life back together. I started this blog as a way to let others know just how much lawyers can help you in certain situations.