Social Media and Your Personal Injury Case
Social media and networking has become an integral part of our lives. This integration brings about issues that can complicate matters for plaintiffs in personal injury actions.
Recently, insurance companies and civil defense lawyers have learned that social media provides a wealth of information that can be used to attack a Tulsa personal injury victim’s case. Pictures of an injured person smiling or appearing to have fun can be used to suggest that the injured person can’t be in as much pain as they suggest. Travel and “check-ins” can be scrutinized. Commentary among friends about how the injured person “had fun last night” can be used to similar effect. We remind all of our clients that it is absolutely critical to be honest and forthcoming with everyone in a personal injury lawsuit: physicians; their lawyer; the insurance company and their lawyer. However, sometimes the truth in these situations is something easily distorted when taken out of context. 20, even 10 years ago, never would a defense attorney come into possession of a photo of a plaintiff out dancing–without some serious private investigation hours. Now, it takes just a few clicks.
Some say photos say a thousand words–and usually we try to put our best selves forward in those photos–so those thousand words may not speak accurately. Who doesn’t smile for a photo? You may be aching and exhausted, but when someone snaps a photo and you’re going to smile, right? No one would post a photo of their aching face while performing activities of daily living (well, maybe some would if you’re into that sort of thing).
The photo of you and your smile will not necessarily reveal to a jury who sees it a year later that you were in pain when the photo was taken. On the contrary, it’ll look like you’re happy and having fun.
Most people are going to resist complaining about their pain or their limitations because they don’t want the negative view from their online friends. Most people are going to try to be social and put on a front, even when they hurt.
But what to do about social media / networking while you’re in the midst of a Tulsa personal injury case? Four tips:
1. Don’t Use Social Media. Social media can really can do nothing good for your case, but can cause a great deal of harm. If you are going to use social media, follow these general rules:
2. Post as little information as possible. No photos or video. Avoid characterizing or describing your activities. NEVER discuss the specifics of your case, your injuries, your treatment, your hopes related to the case, or your conversations with your lawyer. If you’re going to post information about yourself, be careful to be strictly factual. Consider, for example, the difference between, “Bowling last night was great!” and “I had fun watching you guys bowl.”
3. Make sure you have your privacy settings on. Assume there is no way that anything you post on the internet is private. Therefore, don’t fool yourself into thinking that a security setting will “set you free”. However, making sure your privacy settings are such that only people you approve are permitted to look at your postings.
4. Don’t talk to people you don’t know personally. Even if the person who wants to befriend you is “cute” and even if they seem friendly, if you don’t know them, then you shouldn’t let them have access to your private information. Don’t get catfished by an insurance adjuster or defense investigator.
In summary, be careful, cautious, discreet, honest, and accurate. A personal injury case doesn’t have to ruin your social media “life”, but you certainly have to be mindful of how/what you post online can impact other areas of your life, namely your Tulsa personal injury case.
The Jeff Krigel law Firm is committed to educating people about Tulsa car accident cases and other injury cases. If you would like an honest, free evaluation of your case from a Tulsa personal injury attorney, call Jeff Krigel at (918)994-2340. If we take your case, we commit the full financial resources of our firm. Attorney’s fees for auto accident cases are taken on a contingency basis, so that means no money is required up front and we only recover a fee if we recovery a settlement or award for you.