Anything posted on social media could be admissible in court as evidence if it’s related to the case. With increasing frequency, lawyers are using social media posts as evidence to support or defend their clients’ cases.
If you are in the midst of a car accident claim, be exceptionally cautious of the dangers of social media during your case. Be mindful of how you use social networking and what others post about you.
Ways Social Media Can Complicate Your Claim
Using social media as courtroom evidence is a trend on the upswing in car accident, wrongful death, and other injury claims. If something is blogged, tweeted, or posted on Facebook that somehow contradicts your injury claim, the opposing party can bring it to court to refute your case.
Social media evidence includes photos, videos, comments, and status updates on all the following sites:
- Snapchat; and
- any other blogging, microblogging, or online posting formats.
Claims can be denied and settlements reduced if the opposing counsel effectively uses your social media accounts against you.
For instance, let’s say you suffered a disabling injury in your car accident. Then a friend posts a photo on Instagram that she took of you and her rock climbing prior to your accident. Even if the photo was taken before your accident, if your friend posts it afterward, the other party’s attorney may try to use it to discredit your injury in court.
Examples of Cases Hurt by Social Media
Using social media as valid evidence isn’t just a legal theory, it’s being used successfully in more and more claims around the country. It really does pose a threat to car accident victims’ claims.
Take a look at a couple cases affected by social media:
- Spring Break photos – According to media reports, a woman involved in a car accident in Georgia was originally awarded $237,000 for her car accident, claiming her injuries prevented her from working as a hairstylist. However, evidence was presented of her tweeting about her partying on spring break and enjoying the beach, as well as photo of her with a purse on the arm she claimed was injured. They reduced her settlement to $142,000.
- Driving drunk – An Oregon teen updated his Facebook status to: ”Driving drunk… classic 😉 but to whoever’s vehicle I hit I am sorry. 😛 ” after he allegedly was involved in a hit-and-run. One of his Facebook friends reported the status to authorities, and the driver was arrested.
Your social media faux pas doesn’t have to be as outlandish and brash as the above examples in order to work against you. Even a simple post about you “being sorry for the accident” (which could be misconstrued as you accepting blame for the accident) or a photo of you smiling and holding your child (which could negate your injuries or claims of pain and suffering) could damage your case.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Claim
Some attorneys may recommend completely disabling your social media accounts until your case is settled. There are just too many things that may go wrong. Even you are extremely careful, remember that anything your friends tag you in can also be used as evidence. Since it’s nearly impossible to monitor everything, temporarily disabling your accounts may be the best bet.
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