These days you can learn just about anything about someone on social media. There are fewer lengthy phone calls to share exciting news with family or to catch up with friends. Instead, you might log in to Facebook and learn that your college roommate is expecting a baby or that your cousin just bought a new house. Social Media is great for keeping our friends and loved ones updated on our lives. But sometimes social media has its drawbacks if you are in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit. Most people do not know that a simple social media post could keep them from getting the complete recovery that they deserve. If you were hurt in a car accident, you deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries, your medical bills, etc. Here are a few tips to help protect your rights:
1) Do not post about the accident on social media.
You never know when something you post could be taken out of context. Saying “I never saw it coming.” could be used by the other side to argue that you took your eyes off the road and were a contributing cause to the accident. This could reduce your right to recovery. You will get your chance to tell your story. But wait until you have a lawyer to make sure your choice of words is right.
2) Avoid social media as much as possible.
For starters, if you are injured, you should take it easy so that you can get better. But if there is a family vacation you cannot reschedule or a wedding that you cannot miss, do not post pictures or “check in” on social media. It would be bad for opposing counsel to discover that you took a trip to Disney World if you are claiming lost wages for missing work the week before.
If you absolutely must post on social media, keeps posts to a minimum and unrelated to your case and your injuries.
3) Untag any photos of yourself. Ask friends and family not to tag you in photos until after
your case is over.
Being involved in a personal injury case does not mean that you can never leave the house. But do not allow pictures on social media because they can be taken out of context. A photo of you smiling with the bride on the wedding dance floor could hurt your recovery for a back injury even if you were never dancing!
4) Make sure your social media accounts are set to private.
This is a good principal in general. But if you have a personal injury case, you only want the other side to learn information about you through the formal discovery process. You do not want to give them information over the internet.
5) Assume that nothing on your account is “private” and that everything will be used against
Do not post anything that you would not want opposing counsel to see or read. Even if all of your accounts are set to private, the other side may still get access to your account records through subpoena or court order.
6) If you receive a friend request from an unknown person, do not accept it.
This is another good principal to follow in general, but be particularly suspicious of friend requests while your case is pending. Lawyers have ethical duties and cannot get information from you by fraud or impersonation. But you never know when the party who caused your injuries may try to trick you into giving them information.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.