Social media has changed the practice of personal injury law since I started over 30 years ago. There was a time when we cautioned our clients about the insurance investigators possibly doing video surveillance on them. Now, I must also tell our clients to use caution when using social media during personal injury cases. This includes sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys know that social media is a treasure trove of information that they can use to impede your personal injury case. Further, such social media posts are allowed into evidence at trial to be used against you.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts: Real-Life Examples
For example, consider the client injured in a rear-end auto accident, suffering injuries to her low back. During her deposition, my client stated that her back pain kept her from doing certain activities that she did before this auto accident. Specifically, she said that her injuries kept her from going to the beach with friends. At which time the opposing attorney passed across the table to my client, very slowly for dramatic effect, a printout of her Twitter feed in which she had posted several tweets, three weeks after the accident, and before my representation, of the beautiful day she was having at the beach with her friends. This case was settled shortly after my client’s deposition.
What I Recommend to My Clients
One of the first things I alert my clients to at the beginning of my representation, is the following:
“We recommend that if you have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, or other social media accounts, that you privatize those accounts while your case is pending. In our experience, insurance companies, their representatives, and attorneys will attempt to gather information about you through your social media. The opposing side can use the information you post against you. Thus, we recommend that you make all your social media accounts private (only accessible to people you allow) while your case is pending.”
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts
Here are some important Social Media Do’s and Don’ts to follow during your personal injury case:
- Don’t Accept Unknown Friend or Follower Requests: During your case, must not accept any new friend or follower requests; if you do make sure it is someone you know well. This is to safeguard you from unknowingly allowing an adjuster, attorney, or investigator to see your profile and find damaging evidence to use against you in your case.
- Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t say to the opposing attorney: The best approach is to treat your social media posts the same way you would treat comments you would say to the opposing party. You should not post anything about your accident that you wouldn’t say to the opposing attorney.
- Don’t post anything about conversations with your attorney or your case: It should go without saying that you should not discuss your case or anything you talk to your attorney about on social media.
- Do remind your friends not to post certain messages, photos, or videos with you: Use the same guidelines for your friends’ posts as your own: if your friend wouldn’t say it to the opposing attorney about you, don’t let your friend post it. This includes photos and videos. Track your friends’ social media sites.
- Do Google yourself: Attempt to remove any information that may reflect an image or statement that could negatively impact our case.
Contact Us for More Information
All these best practices we suggest to protect yourself from not getting all that you deserve. The defense may misconstrue any posts of yours to make you look bad. And, we want to make sure that does not happen. If you have any more questions, please contact our office at (813) 915-1110.