How Social Media Impacts Your PI Claim

How Social Media Impacts Your PI Claim

January 18, 2023

Are you a frequent user of social media and have a personal injury lawsuit in California? If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, you may want to scrutinize what you post on the Internet during the litigation process, even if you’re positive that you were injured due to someone else’s negligence and believe you have no liability in the accident. This is because you could unintentionally post information that could negatively affect the outcome of your case. Let’s take a look at how your Internet posts can harm you during a personal injury lawsuit.

Don’t Post About Your Accident

If you’ve just been in an accident, like a car wreck, you may be tempted to post an update stating that you’re okay. That post may contain wording similar to:

OMG, I was just in a car accident. Some lady ran a red light, but I’m fine and at home now.

The truth of the matter is that you may not be fine, and you could wake up with severe back pain and a migraine the next day, indicating that you have whiplash and possibly a herniated disc, due to the accident. At that time, you would go to the doctor to get diagnosed and be treated, but you’ve already stated that you’re fine, which to the opposing legal team, means that you are uninjured. This type of statement, although seemingly innocent and meant to convey that you’re still alive and not severely injured in a hospital, could be used against you when your case is litigated.

What You Post on the Internet Is Considered a Written Document

It’s important to note that social media posts as well as anything you post on the Internet are considered written documents, and if the opposing legal team gets a hold of copies of your posts, they could be used in court against you. For example, let’s suppose you are recovering from a back injury due to a car accident. The potential at-fault driver’s insurance company has refused to properly process your injury claim, and you’ve hired a legal team in California to help you recover the costs of your medical treatment and lost wages because you’ve been unable to go to work since the accident.

On your social media page, you post a picture of your weekend trail ride, and you can clearly be seen sitting atop a horse. If the legal team for the other driver’s insurance company found this post, they could use it against you to try and prove that you aren’t injured because you were participating in a physical activity that a person with a serious back injury should not be able to do.

Use Caution When Posting Comments to Other People’s Posts

While your lawsuit is moving through the legal system, be mindful of what you say when you comment on other people’s posts. Don’t mention anything about your litigation or talk about your case. While you can control your social media and use filters to ensure only certain people see your posts, you are unable to control who sees other people’s posts, and this includes any online groups where you are a member.

Why Your Internet Posts Can Be Used Against You

During any litigation, there is a discovery phase. This is where your lawyer finds evidence to support your personal injury claim, and the insurance company’s legal team tries to find any and all information that disproves your case or limits the value of your claim. This can include anything you post online. For example, if you post that you’re going out with your friends and family and doing various physical activities that don’t involve going to a doctor or specialist, the opposing legal team could make the case that you aren’t as injured as you claim and don’t need all the medical care and monetary compensation that you are claiming to need.

The Internet Is Considered Public Record

It’s important to understand that anything you post on the Internet, including, but not limited to, your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn accounts and website blogs, could potentially be used against you. This is because anything you post online is considered part of the public record.

How to Protect Your Online Accounts

Since anything you publish on the Internet after your personal injury claim has been filed could be used against you, a good rule of thumb is to not post anything online until your case has reached its conclusion. This is because no one can accurately predict what information the defense lawyer is looking for when they search for you online. They could even subpoena the records for your phone and its GPS location information to see if you’ve been anywhere that a person who was injured wouldn’t be located. For example, a person with a severe back injury wouldn’t be going to amusement parks or riding the rides.

Limit Who Can See Your Posts

The default for most platforms is ‘public’, which means everyone can see your posts. You should change that setting to ‘friends only’, if you trust all the people who are your friends or who follow your account. In many accounts, especially Facebook, you can select certain people from your friends’ list that can see your posts. It’s important to note that this only applies to every post you make after you change the settings. You will still need to review your prior posts and change who can see them, if they pertain to your case or the activities you have participated in after your case was filed.

Make Sure You’re Reviewing Every Post You’re Tagged In

This primarily applies to Facebook, but you should enable the setting that allows you to review every post you’re tagged in before it appears on your feed and your friends’ feeds. If your other online accounts have this setting, you should enable it there as well.

Scrutinize New Friend Requests

While your personal injury case is working its way through the court system, use extra caution when accepting new friend requests. These could be people working for the defense who want full access to read your feed and find evidence against you or that supports their side of the case. On many platforms, you can also limit who can send you a friends’ request, so it’s a good idea to review that setting and select ‘friends of friends’ so that you’re not getting requests from random strangers.

Don’t Let Other People See Your Friends’ List

Some platforms allow you to hide your friends’ list. If you can hide it, do so. This usually means changing the setting to ‘only me’.

Hide Your Email Address and Phone Number

If your email address and/or phone number are visible on your social media accounts, make sure that only you can see those. It’s a good idea to have this set all the time in order to reduce the amount of spam email, text messages and phone calls you receive.

Hide Your Profile and Posts from Search Engines

In some online accounts, you can hide your profile and posts from search engines, like Yahoo, Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo. If this setting is available, make sure to deny your profile’s ability to be seen off the platform.

Don’t Delete Anything

If you have accidentally posted a physical activity or details pertaining to your liability case, don’t delete it. This could be construed as ‘spoilation’, and in some instances, it’s a crime. If you have accidentally posted these things, it’s best to consult with your California lawyer in order to determine the best steps moving forward.

Remember That Your Posts Can be Ordered for Admission Into Your Case

A court can order your online posts into evidence, even if you’ve deleted posts or entire accounts. Deleted content can often be restored because it’s still on the server, even if it is not accessible on the main site. Many individuals often forget this can happen, especially when they’ve been the victim of someone else’s negligence.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in California

If you’ve recently been injured on the job, in a car accident or while out and about running errands, and you’re having trouble getting the money you need to pay for your medical bills and lost wages, Avian Law Group can help you. We are experienced, expert personal injury claim lawyers that can help you through your personal injury case so that you can get the money you need to pay your medical expenses and other bills while you recover.

To contact us for a consultation about your case, call us at 818-282-8400.

Posted by

Michael Avanesian

Michael Avanesian, the founder and driving force behind Avian Law Group, is a passionate and dedicated attorney with a strong background in personal injury law. As a partner at JT Legal Group, Michael led the growth of the personal injury practice from a single employee to a team of over ninety professionals, securing over $2 billion in settlements for clients in just three years.

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