Social media has become a ubiquitous presence in our daily lives, making it second nature to share everything from the mundane to the momentous. Those involved in South Florida personal injury lawsuits know that it can be one of those “big things” that can consume a lot of your physical and emotional energy. It would seem natural, then, to share this with others to whom you’re connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or other platforms.
As Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys, we generally advice against this. The problem is that information on social media accounts – particularly anything that relates to your accident, injury or recovery – could undercut your personal injury claim. Such posts can provide defense lawyers with a valuable source of information that refute the cause of your injury, impeach your credibility or poke holes in the amount of damages you claim to have suffered.
This isn’t to say that people posting about their case are lying about anything. In fact, it’s more likely that they post because they feel they have nothing to hide. The problem is you aren’t looking at the information through the same lens as a lawyer. The intent and implications of certain pictures, posts, videos or comments could be twisted by the defense team. It’s better to limit your social media engagement while your case is pending, if possible. If you have questions about specifics, direct them to your accident attorney.
There are a few general guidelines for social media from which virtually any personal injury client can benefit:
- DON’T post pictures or talk about the accident. The pictures and words you share about the accident, your injuries or how it’s impacted your life could potentially cost you a lot in court. That doesn’t mean you have to take down your social media accounts or forego posting anything altogether, but do be cautious. With every post, ask yourself whether you’d be comfortable with it being shown or read aloud in court.
- DO change your privacy settings. Whether your case is to be settled in negotiations with insurers or settled in court, it’s a good idea to block strangers from having access to your social media pages. Updating your privacy settings to ensure your pages are restricted and not public is one way to help prevent the content therein from becoming fodder in your personal injury case. That said, always presume that everything you post could potentially become subject to scrutiny.
- DON’T post online about your hospital stay. It’s understandable that you want to keep friends and family informed, but it’s best to do so privately so you can sidestep any possible issues with your claim. Your medical bills will be the subject of scrutiny in a personal injury claim, and you want to make sure you are compensated for the full amount. You don’t want to unintentionally say something that could compromise that. Plus, the majority of people on your friend list probably don’t need to know the details of your care.
- DO a quick Google search of yourself. Open a window in Incognito mode to see what information about you is public. If you think anything that pops up could be a potential issue, discuss these with your Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer.
- DO talk to a counselor or therapist. There is a lot at stake in your personal injury lawsuit. You could have thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. Using your social media page as a support group isn’t smart when the things you say could come back to haunt you in court. Discuss questions and concerns with your attorney. Work through the emotional trauma with a counselor or therapist who will keep your conversations confidential. (Further, the cost of these sessions could be recoverable in your claim as well if the mental/emotional turmoil your experiencing is directly related to the accident.)
Expect that defense lawyers will be looking for any evidence that could undermine your claim, and proceed with caution when it comes to your online presence.
Call Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
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Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers on Handling Crashes With Uninsured Drivers, Feb. 1, 2021, Fort Lauderdale Accident Attorney Blog