Sustaining an injury can be a stressful experience, so it’s natural to want to talk about it with friends and family. On the other hand, your online conduct could impact any pending personal injury proceedings. The defense can twist your words and use them against you to demand less compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering – or worse still, to dismiss your case altogether. Here’s what you need to know about social media conduct and your personal injury claim:
You likely pursued a personal injury claim because you suffered substantial physical injuries and incurred medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Personal injury claims have two main types of damages: economic and noneconomic. The latter seeks compensation for the physical pain, suffering, or emotional distress you experienced as a result of your accident.
In order to collect these damages, your personal injury attorney will call on key witnesses, such as your doctor, family, and friends – all of whom can attest to your pain. Unfortunately, a defense attorney’s job is the opposite – to dredge up information that your claims might not be all they seem. To do this, the first place they may look is your social media profile.
We tend to portray our best selves online – we don’t post unflattering pictures or talk about how sad we are. If you seek damages for emotional distress and the defense finds evidence of you laughing with friends at a social event, they could spin it, and use it against you.
Some people might take the opposite approach and use their social media accounts to vent their frustrations about their experience. Suffering the consequences of someone else’s negligence can be maddening – but don’t take to social media to talk it out. Not only do you run the risk of providing someone with the details of your case, you can also create unintended consequences. The defense can exploit any information you provide, and even file a counterclaim for defamation of character.
The defense can exploit any information you provide, whether it’s related to your case or not. Even something as simple as a smiling emoji could be proof that you’re not suffering as much as you claim. Emoji use has become a new, but hotly contested matter of law, with circuit and appeals judges weighing in on their significance.
The best way to protect your personal injury claim is to disable your social media accounts until your case is over. Doing so is the only way you can ensure that the defense does not use your online information against you.
If you absolutely cannot disable your social media accounts, we recommend taking all the following actions:
Social media accounts are a matter of public record, and anything on your social media record can affect your personal injury claim. Use these tips to protect yourself and your right to compensation.