Social media can be an oversharer’s dream, but they're a personal injury lawyer's nightmare. For personal injury claimants, one ill-advised status update can have a negative impact on their settlement or verdict.
Everything that’s posted on social media is considered public, and even the most well meaning remarks about a personal injury claim could potentially be used against a claimant by the defense. For this reason, we’ve assembled the following social media guidelines for clients currently involved in a personal injury claim.
(1) DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR CASE ONLINE. First off—regardless of what you plan on posting—it’s typically a good idea to ensure your personal social media accounts are set to private. This prevents outside parties from being able to easily comb through everything you publish online. However, no matter what your privacy settings, you should refrain from posting anything relating to your personal injury case. This includes meetings, doctor’s visits, and any interactions with your insurance company. Anything relating to your case is best kept off social media.
(2) DON'T POST UPDATES ON YOUR INJURIES, TREATMENTS, OR OVERALL PHYSICAL CONDITION. Despite often being the exact type of update you’d like to share with friends, publishing updates about your injuries and treatment can potentially damage your case. Updates can be taken out of context and occasionally viewed in a way that diminishes your potential settlement. As a result, publicly discussing any facet of your treatments isn’t worth the risk.
(3) DO NOT POST ANYTHING RELATING TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES (INCLUDING TRAVEL) WHILE YOUR CASE IS ONGOING. This should be a no brainer, but if you’re currently engaged in a claim or litigation surrounding a personal injury, posting pictures of a recent ski trip, camping trip, hike, or other strenuous activity can be hugely damaging to your case. Even if you’re dealing with chronic pain or still suffering from serious injuries, pictures of you engaging in seemingly “healthy” activities can induce skepticism and jeopardize your case.
(4) IF IN DOUBT, DON'T POST ANYTHING. You might be sensing a pattern here, but if you have the slightest inclination that a post could be damaging to your case, chances are you’re right. Erring on the side of caution is a good rule of thumb, and you’re not ever going to do harm to your case by simply staying silent online.
(5) ADVISE FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS TO EXERCISE GOOD JUDGMENT WITH THEIR POSTS. Unfortunately, not only are you responsible for your own posts, but you’re also responsible for the posts of any friends or family members who might tag you on their own social media accounts. Because of this, it’s prudent to caution them to refrain from tagging you in any posts that may have a negative impact on your case.
In some instances, if a confidential settlement is reached, it can be necessary to counsel family to adhere to the agreement and refrain from posting anything that could be considered in violation of your settlement. For a real-life example, look no further than the 2014 headline-grabbing case in Florida in which a man’s daughter cost him an $80,000 settlement after she publicly gloated on Facebook.
When it comes down to it, one careless update can have massive unintended consequences. Exercise good judgment, think before you share, and make sure you communicate the importance of wise social media usage to those around you. There’s no reason to let social media get in the way of resolving your personal injury claim.
If you've been injured in an auto collision or other incident and have questions, give us call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can help.