Can Social Media Affect Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal Injury | March 29, 2021

Many people are heavily active on social media, checking in or posting at least once per day. Social media is a space where you can share every aspect of your life. It is important, however, to realize that revealing too much online can be a bad thing if you are in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit. Regardless of your privacy settings, the defense can use your social media activity against you.

person holding a smartphone | text: ways social media can affect a personal injury lawsuit

Social Media Posts Can Be Evidence

Social media activity is admissible as evidence in a personal injury case. By law, information and images posted on social media are considered written documents. During a personal injury case, they can be admitted as documentary evidence. As a general rule, all relevant evidence is admissible. If you post anything that is relevant to your personal injury case, therefore, the other side’s attorney can use it as evidence against you.

When searching for evidence during the discovery phase of your lawsuit, the defendant’s insurance company or lawyer will have one main goal: diminishing your injury claim. The insurer will peruse all of your social media accounts to search for documentary evidence. This may include status updates, location check-ins, images uploaded, tagged pictures, tweets, selfies, job updates, etc. If the insurer finds anything, he or she will submit it to the courts as evidence.

The insurance company will be looking for evidence that contradicts what you are claiming. If you are filing a claim for an injury after an auto accident, for example, the insurance company will be looking for proof that you are not as injured as you say you are (e.g., a location check-in at a bowling alley could affect your case if you were claiming an arm injury). Any posts or photographs of you going about your daily activities, working, hanging out with friends, etc. could be harmful to your personal injury lawsuit.

Do Social Media Posts Count as Public Record?

It is a common misconception that what you post on your social media accounts is private information – especially if you have personalized your privacy settings. Unfortunately, this is not the case. By law, social media content counts as part of public record.

This means anything you post can be made available to the public, regardless of your privacy settings, and can work against you in a personal injury lawsuit. The only exception is your private messages. However, an attorney can gain access to your private messages (including deleted messages, in some cases) if he or she obtains a warrant or your consent to do so.

Social Media Tips to Protect Your Case

It can be difficult to guess what an insurance company or defense attorney will be looking for on your social media accounts. The best way to protect your personal injury case is to stay off of social media altogether until the resolution of your case. You may wish to temporarily disable your accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Otherwise, you could post something that hurts your case, no matter how careful you are.

If you must continue using social media, refrain from posting anything. Do not post new photos of you or your injuries, photos of the accident, information about the accident, or new purchases you recently made. Do not interact with other people’s posts or allow them to tag you in their posts. Change your privacy settings so that only your friends can view your posts. Remember, however, that this is not foolproof if the other side of your case wishes to access your accounts.

Get Help From a Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles

Navigating social media during a personal injury lawsuit is just one of many things you must do as a plaintiff. If you wish to have a skilled and experienced professional handle the legal side of your case for you while you focus on recovering from your injuries, consult with a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Your lawyer can give you legal advice about your social media accounts and protect your rights so you can concentrate on healing.

During the COVID-19 crisis, The Ryan Law Group is open for business and continues to be available to existing and new clients through virtual meetings and teleconferences. We can handle all of your legal needs without you leaving your house. Please, call (310) 321-4800 or contact us here to be connected to our attorneys who can get to work on your case.