The growth of social media has provided windows into the lives of those who actively use Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms. Revealing intimate details of life has become second nature and often borders on over-sharing. Simply stated, users want to look good through their pictures and written musings.
In many instances, they may make themselves look too good.
The countless flattering photos and boastful posts have provided what many feel is too much information. For those who have been involved in accidents that have lead to personal injury cases, they run the risk of undermining their legal claims, looking as if they are recounting activity instead of recovering.
Successful personal injury claims encompass compensation for expenses directly associated with the injury and noneconomic damages for pain and suffering resulting from the accident. Experts, family members and friends help to bolster the claim by providing testimony on the tragic outcome of the life-changing event.
Conversely, the opposing side also presents their own evidence that downplays the severity. Where defendants once faced significant challenges in fact-finding, the simple act of reviewing social media feeds has become a treasure trove of evidence.
Plaintiffs claiming physical and emotional trauma should know that there is no such thing as a harmless post. Whether related to negligent acts or not, the smallest tidbit of information presented online can be can be used against them in court.
Privacy settings mean little. Social media is included in most state public records laws that detail specific guidance on the preservation of online posts and pictures. The evidence is deemed credible because the observations come directly from the individual, akin to writing in a diary.
Social media helps users present positive images of themselves, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their lives. That self-promotion may help their reputations, but do significant, if not irreparable harm to their personal injury claims.
The best option is to suspend all social media use until the claim is resolved. Those who choose to continue online activity may find the subject of their next post to be the loss of a personal injury claim.