Just about everyone is using online social networking sites. Social media has become an ingrained part of our day, and is a primary communication method between friends and family.
But using social media during personal injury lawsuits could make a major impact.
The rise in usage of the various social media websites among adults has also created subsequent debate in courtrooms across the country. Insurance companies have started using information obtained from a person’s social media profile as evidence in court to dispute and diminish the severity of an individual’s injury(s).
While social media may provide an open forum for people (friends and not) to get a glimpse into our personal life, it should NOT hinder any personal injury lawsuits. In working with clients across Niagara Falls, Niagara County and Western New York, I’ve seen how big an impact social media can make on personal injury lawsuits. Many negative results due to social media come from the same mistake.
So many people make this social media mistake during their personal injury lawsuits.
First, let’s dig into the mistake itself. Then I’ll offer some easy solutions you can take to avoid it:
Not protecting your (online) privacy.
Sounds simple, right? Yet so many people make this mistake (and some end up incredibly disappointed with the result of their case).
In society today we are so programmed to “share” everything (quick pictures while out, even our meals and everyday activities) that we often don’t think about what it is we’re posting (and who can see it). Everything you post on social media could damage your personal injury case. From simple mistakes like posting an update that says “skiing for the weekend,” or a tweet that says “swimming at the beach with my family,” that information could be used to damage your personal injury case.
Adverse parties will use similar statements to make the argument that an individual is back to performing all of the normal and customary activities that he/she engaged in prior to sustaining their injury. However, often times the individual does not post that while at the beach with his/her family, he/she was unable to run around and play catch with his/her son; or that while at the ski resort with his/her family, he/she was unable to actually ski.
As trivial as this all may sound, information gathered from social media profile posts afterwards and even prior to the subject accident could potentially harm your case.
Solution #1 Change Your Privacy Settings
Every social media site has privacy settings that allow you to control who can see, tag, post or otherwise interact with your content. In the event that you are unfamiliar with how to use these privacy settings, our office would be more than happy to assist you in securing your social media profiles and showing you how to set or change your privacy settings. Many people don’t realize that privacy settings for sites like Facebook often “reset” when there are changes to the platform. So while you may have changed your privacy settings last year or even six months ago, Facebook may have set all your settings to its default recently. That’s why it’s imperative to do a thorough check.
Below are tips that we strongly recommend you follow in order to make sure your social media profiles do not negatively impact any personal injury lawsuits:
o Please do not hesitate to ask our office for assistance in helping you with this step as it is very important!
Solution #2 Consider temporarily deactivating your Facebook and/or Instagram account until your case has been settled.
Put in some time to update your settings and have frank conversations with your family and friends to explain why their photos and posts aren’t appearing on your social media profiles. Some minor conversations and steps now can make a significant difference down the line with any personal injury lawsuits.
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