Social media is ingrained in our daily lives. We share our joys, tragedies, accomplishments, failures, and opinions online. According to Statista, as of 2019 and 2020, the average daily social media use of the Internet globally amounted to 145 minutes per day. From young to old, from tech-savvy to newbies, it seems that everyone uses social media these days. Using social media can lead to oversharing, and our insecurities fuel oversharing. More exactly, we care too much about what others think and strive to make up for what we believe people judge us for.
Sharing a bit too much online can be dangerous. If you’re involved in a personal injury case, it’s recommended to exercise caution in your use of social media. Your posts can be seen by the insurance company or the defending solicitor. Put simply, if you have a pending lawsuit, sharing profile info, videos, pictures, or comments can come back to haunt you. Social media is an open book, meaning that what you post online is available to everyone. Control the personal information you share online by ensuring you don’t give up much of your privacy. When your social media accounts are locked down, people can’t see what’s inside without your permission.
Private Social Media Posts Are Discoverable in Litigation
Keeping your information private is a good move. Nonetheless, it doesn’t guarantee that you can continue to do anything you want to. Even if you set your accounts to private, you’re not safe from prying eyes. The information that you think is “private”, whether posts or messages, can be the subject of discovery. Discovery is the formal exchange of information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they present in the court of trial. The experts at Accident Claims Advice points out that it has become common in personal injury cases for defense counsel to request copies of the plaintiff’s social media accounts to see if the claims made are supported or contradicted by what’s posted online.
Parties can conduct discovery without court intervention. Nevertheless, either party can petition the court if the other side refuses to produce information that might be relevant to the case. As a social media user, you have to think before you post. The use of social media in the legal system is experiencing a burgeoning interest. The defendant may use posts or comments made on social media to demonstrate that it’s inconsistent with the claim being made against them. If the judge agrees with the defendant that the claim isn’t viable, that’s the end of the lawsuit.
An Example of How Posting on Social Media Can Affect Your Claim
Let’s see an example of irresponsible social media use. You claim throughout the litigation process that your injuries are so serious that it’s difficult, impossible even to leave the house. If you’ve been in an accident, it’s normal to have physical limitations. But what if you’re caught with a lie? A social media post can give you away. A good defendant might find pictures of you out on the town. You’re happy, upbeat, and going about with your life. The photos clearly contradict your testimony. Needless to say, it’s a headache for you and your solicitor, as your credibility is brought into question.
If you claim that you’ve suffered crippling injuries, posting photos or videos of yourself online won’t do any good. The defense solicitor or the insurance company will take the necessary steps to undermine your claim. Facebook, as well as other social media sites, have transformed into effective surveillance methods. Private investigators can look into your posts and comments or the ones made by your family and friends. Here are some examples of potentially harmful posts:
- Posts talking about what happened in the accident
- Posts that slander the defendant or the insurance company
- Posts highlighting the developments in the case
Evidence gathered from social media is evaluated based on the same principles as any other evidence by the court.
When You’ve Filed a Personal Injury Lawsuit, Avoid Posting on Social Media
The best thing you can do is to take a break from social media. Deactivate your accounts until the trial or settlement is complete. You can’t predict how your posts or pictures can be used against you. Equally, tell your friends and family to be careful about what they post online. You can’t control people, but you have to do everything within your power to protect your legal claim. Most importantly, don’t private message others about your case. As mentioned earlier, nothing is 100% private. You might have to handle your usernames and passwords. The safest bet is to avoid social media altogether while your case is pending.
There may be situations when it’s impossible to avoid social media. Perhaps it’s your job to post online. Reach out to your solicitor and ask them what the best way to navigate this process is. Your job requires you to be connected with online communities, for better or worse. Even so, it would be best to separate from the negative aspects of social media. Limit the time spent online. To be more precise, create active and non-active hours. Non-active hours could mean not signing into your social media accounts after dinner or not checking your phone while you’re in bed.
Even if you recognize that it’s crucial to take a break from social media, it might be difficult to put your plan into action. It will take some willpower to break the habit. Download an app to understand how much time you’re spending online. Identify what platforms you’re using the most and set the allotted time for each one. Replace your social media use with something positive, such as cooking your favorite meal or writing in your journal. Put a rubber band around your phone. As silly as this might sound, it’s helpful in terms of tracking phone habits. The rubber band is there to remind you that the phone is off-limits. It acts as a physical barrier.
She works as an editor at Research Snipers.