Social media has changed the practice of personal injury law since I started over 30 years ago. There used to be a time when we had to caution our clients only about the insurance investigators that may be doing video surveillance on their homes or workplaces. Now, I must also advise our clients to use every 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 sites are a treasure trove of information that can be used to diminish or destroy your personal injury case. Further, such social media posts are admissible into evidence at trial to be used against you.
For example, consider the client injured in a rear-end auto accident, suffering substantial injuries to her low back. During her deposition, my client stated that her back pain prevented her from engaging in certain activities that she did prior to this auto accident, specifically 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 prior to my representation, of the beautiful day she was having at the beach with her friends. This case settled shortly after my client’s deposition.
One of the first things I alert my clients to, in writing, 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. It has been our experience that insurance companies, their representatives, and attorneys will attempt to gather information about you by accessing your internet social media accounts. The information you post can be used by the opposing side against you. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you make all of your social media accounts private (only accessible to people you allow) while your case is pending.”
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 we suggest you don’t accept 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 from seeing your profile and finding damaging evidence to use against you in your case.
- Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t say directly to the opposing attorney: The best approach is to treat your social media posts the same way you would treat comments you would say directly to the opposing party. Don’t post or say anything, or post a photo or video, about your accident that you wouldn’t say directly 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 directly to the opposing attorney about you, don’t let your friend post it. This includes photos and videos. Monitor 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.
All of these best practices we suggest purely to protect yourself from not getting all that you deserve. Many times pictures or posts can be misconstrued by the defense to make you look bad, we want to make sure that does not happen. If you have any more questions, please contact our office at 813.452.4043.