Here at Jones Wilson we do our very best to protect our clients and obtain the best settlement possible for their case. However, sometimes lawsuits are needed to make that happen. Once a case is in litigation the other side is entitled to conduct discovery on a person that has filed the lawsuit. Part of that discovery process can, and often does, include social media posts. A trend that is becoming far more common amongst insurance defense attorneys is to scour Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for posts that a Plaintiff has made. Public posts are not deemed as private, and are discoverable and useable during the discovery process. To that end, here are some suggestions that we at Jones Wilson would suggest guide you in your Social Media endeavors.
What You Must Know About Social Media Following A Personal Injury Claim
Be Careful With Photographs.
People who have been injured claim an inability to perform all manner of day to day activities. When you make those claims, and yet have at that same time posted selfies from a beach, a mountain top, sledding, or performing any number of what could be perceived as physical activities, that can be an issue. Imagine a defense attorney taking a deposition. The Plaintiff testifies as to the severity of their back pain and how it impacts their daily life. The Defendant attorney really allows the Plaintiff to go into great detail about the severity of their pain. In front a jury, the Defense attorney reads that testimony to a jury and then shows them Facebook or Instagram photographs of that same Plaintiff who posted photographs of themselves sledding in the snow, or scuba diving on vacation following the collision. Suddenly, Plaintiff’s testimony starts to look less impressive, and an explanation is in order. Explanations are never a good thing in trial. If you have an injury claim pending, keep photographs off social media until the claim is resolved.
Don’t be the Poster Looking for Comfort Through Comments and Likes.
We all know people who have a tendency to share too much, and sometimes the reason is we are looking for sympathy through comments of encouragement and likes. The reality is that when a claim is pending, a public post about your plight is never a good thing. Defense attorneys can take such posts and make it look like whole claim is just a vanity project. Yet, at the same time, if you post that everything is great, and your life is so blessed that it couldn’t be better, defense attorneys will use that to show, apparently there is nothing wrong in your life when you are not focused on suing their client. If you’ve been injured, just steer personal posts about your health or well-being. Don’t be a Facebook martyr and tell everyone about how horribly the insurance company is treating your, or how terrible you feel. Keep that information private so that it is only being addressed in the claim, rather than, on social media.
Don’t Put Details of the Collision or Incident in a Post.
We have seen people put details of a car collision, or fall they had, on social media. The problem is that what happens if the information in you post doesn’t jive with your memory down the road when you are giving a deposition. Suddenly, your own post is being used to impeach you about what happened. Keep details of a fall, car collision, or any other incident, off social media. You want everything focused on your testimony of what happened, not a potentially contradictory post you may have unknowingly put out there.
Be Careful About What You Allow On Your Page.
Not to be too puritan about all of this, but the reality is that you need to be careful about being too crass on social media. Public posts are just that, public. Do not put things out there making light of your felony conviction, or some other potentially illegal activity. Even though it is legal, be careful making light of marijuana use. We have seen juries dislike truly injured people because they acted, or talked, in a way that the jury felt was vulgar or just “not what they wanted to hear” from an injured person. You certainly don’t have to be perfect in your language or actions, but simply be aware that when you share or post something that is objectively vulgar to people, that may come back to bite you in a claim when a defense attorney gets a hold of it, and is doing everything in their power to hurt you.
You Don’t Have to Completely Shun Social Media.
We are not telling you to shut off social media when you make a claim or file a lawsuit, but we are recommending toning your activity down. Commenting on friends photographs or reaching out and saying hi to someone you haven’t spoken with is fine. You just want to keep your claim and posts about your life private while that claim progresses. You never want a simple post about your injury to come back to haunt your claim a year or two later. Yet, it can happen, so be cautious.
The claims and litigation process is not always fair and it can be scary. There is a defense attorney who is looking for opportunities to hurt an injured person in order to win. They can, and will, mischaracterize social media posts if they are able, to make an injured victim look like a greedy phony, who thinks they won the lottery with their injury. However, with some proper care, you can fully participate in your social media activities without worry about your claim. At Jones Wilson LLP we are committed to doing everything possible to assist our clients in the event we have to enter into litigation.
If You’ve Been Injured In An Accident You Need To Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer As Soon As Possible
If you find yourself the victim of a car accident, slip and fall or spine injury, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. We’re here to help! Please contact us online or call our Henderson office directly at 702.405.6000 to schedule a free consultation.