How to Damage Your Personal Injury Case with Social Media
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and dozens of other social media sharing sites offer us countless ways to share every moment of lives with the world. We have become so comfortable with Instagram, Snapchat and the others that we don’t think twice before posting a photo of ourselves rock climbing in Southern Utah while our attorney is in court arguing that your back injury has caused you to be permanently disabled. It may sound ridiculous but search for personal injury and social media and you will find dozens of cases where the plaintiff had their case dismissed because they posted a picture of themselves in a karate tournament, playing tennis, lifting heavy furniture or similar acts of physical prowess when they have alleged debilitating injuries in their lawsuit. Even a photo of yourself holding your child and laughing can be twisted into something that works against you especially if you are claiming that you have so much back pain that you cannot work.
Here are 10 specific ways that you can damage your personal injury case with social media.
1) Posting details about your accident.
This includes tweets but especially Instagram and Facebook. If you post pictures and details of your accident online you are inviting the insurance company to examine those posts to find defects in your case. Also, avoid chats and other forms of online communications with your friends. Not only does this open the door to other side to discredit you as a witness but also by sharing important details with people who are unrelated to your case you are turning your friends into potential witnesses. Imagine you were kidding around and said, “I am going to make millions off these losers for a couple of bumps and bruises.” Even if you were joking, written text does not translate in the same way as spoken word. That statement could damage your case and sour a jury against you.
2) Posting photos of yourself.
OK, we already mentioned this above but clearly people are not getting the message. If you have a personal injury case do not post pictures of yourself online. Let’s look at one case specific case where the plaintiff was run over on the freeway by a semi-truck while riding his motorcycle. He was seriously injured and confined to wheelchair while his broken pelvis healed. He went from very active to sitting in front of a computer posting pictures on Facebook all day. Unfortunately for him, he posted photo’s of himself doing “stunts” on his motorcycle just a couple of days before the accident. Even though when he was struck he was riding his motorcycle in a safe manner, at trial, the defense presented the photos of him performing stunts. You could see on the faces of the jury that they had turned against him. Ultimately, his award was far less than what it could have been.
3) Playing Online Video Games All Day.
If you think that online gaming is not a form of social media, you are wrong. Part of the online gaming experience is the various ways that you can interact with other people online. Chats, instant messages, profile messages and other exchanges in gaming systems on Steam and other like are just as much social media as Facebook. Your comments, posts and chats on gaming platforms is actually easier to get than comments, posts and chats on Facebook. A jury may not like the fact that you were playing video games 12 hours a day but trying to claim that you are too injured to return to your job as a bookkeeper where you only sit a computer for 8 hours per day.
4) Complaining about everything.
Perception is everything. Many counties in California are chocked full of lower income people, retirees and unemployed people right now and they frequently end up on juries. These are all fine, hard working people with good intentions. But imagine them reading post after post of you complaining about your job and how much you don’t want to go back to work, how small your house is and how you can’t wait until you get your millions in your settlement, how do you think you might be perceived by the jury? Not very well is the answer.
The Bottom line.
Take a break from social media. Pick up the phone or write a letter. There is still a possibility that those could be used against you but they tend to be a much more private form of communication that is not readily available to a defense attorney for the insurance company.