Posted on: 14 April 2015
Have you been in a car accident recently? Are you planning to pursue compensation for your damages and injuries in court? If so, then you need to take a minute to think about the way that you use social media. A few mistakes on your blog or your favorite social media page could end up causing you to lose in court. And your car accident lawyer may not be able to tell you to fix your mistakes without risking their own livelihood – one lawyer ended up with a five year suspension and a fine for doing just that. So it's important that you know what online mistakes to avoid during your trial.
Don't Post From the Hospital
If you want to let people know that you've been in an accident, that you're at the hospital, and that everyone is OK, don't do it on social media. Call the people who are important to you individually. Why? Because a quick post on your webpage to let your friends know that everyone is alive and well can easily be misinterpreted in front of a jury.
If you post something like "we're all OK", a defense attorney is going to use that post to try to prove that you and your passengers were not injured. You may have simply meant "we're all alive". You may not even have gotten a diagnosis from a doctor yet when you posted. But that's not what a defense attorney will tell the jury. Instead, they'll argue that you were "OK" right after the accident, and just claiming to be injured now to cash in.
Don't Accept New Friends
Be wary of any social media friend requests from people that you can't quite figure out how you know. You may not know them at all. They could easily be an insurance claims adjuster or defense attorney, trying to get access to friends-only information. Until your case is settled or decided by a jury, you're better off just saying no to new friends.
Don't think that a private, friends-only page gets you off the hook, however. Social media privacy settings change with dizzying frequency, and your page may not be as secure as you think. Check and strengthen your privacy settings frequently. Ask your friends not to tag you in posts or pictures on their pages – those may show up publicly even if your page is locked down tightly. Also, posts and pictures that you place on your friends' pages will show up in a search, no matter what your privacy settings are. A good defense attorney will find these errors, so avoid making them.
Don't Blog About Your Accident or Medical Treatment
It's easy to think that you have nothing to fear from recounting you accident or describing your injuries online. After all, you're telling the truth, and you'll tell the truth in court, too. What could go wrong?
It's sad to say that honestly may not be enough to save your case if you put too many details online. Human memories are imperfect, especially during times of crisis or trauma. If your online account of the accident doesn't perfectly match your police report or your testimony in court, you can count on the defense attorney to seize any small error as proof that you're lying. (And if you don't make any errors at all, count on them to claim that your story has been rehearsed.) Detailing your medical treatment online is also a recipe for disaster. Something as simple as a description of a good day at physical therapy or a picture of yourself looking healthy can be twisted into a claim that you're not really as injured as you claim to be.
As difficult as it is, it's best to stay off line until your lawsuit is over with. If you absolutely can't stay off line, then you need to at least be extremely careful, and avoid posting photos or talking about your car accident, your injury or treatment, or the lawsuit. If you've already made any of these mistakes, tell your lawyer right away, so that you have time to strategize before going to court.Share