SOCIAL MEDIA - the good, the bad, & the ugly
As social media accounts grow, lawyers are becoming more and more resourceful in using them to make or break injury cases. Here is how:
The good – social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) can help us show how our client was affected by her injuries. When you posted to social media before a crash, you have nothing to gain by posting, so juries tend to trust the prior posts. For instance, you may have posted videos of yourself playing sports, or travelling, or hiking. We use these videos or pictures to show clients doing these activities before the crash. The defense cannot then claim that a client is making up these activities since there is documented, hard evidence from before the crash. There are countless other ways to use social media in a similar fashion.
The bad – unfortunately, people often feel like they can say things online that they would never say in real life. If a good defense lawyer figures out how to make these types of posts relevant to a claim, the defense lawyer can really hurt an otherwise strong claim. Posts containing racism, sexism, violence, or prior injury can be used very effectively against a Plaintiff if the defense lawyer can get them into evidence.
The ugly – social media posts after a crash can be devastating to a claim if they undermine a Plaintiff’s testimony. Defense lawyers will ask for private social media posts in a lawsuit and will usually push the issue after getting sworn testimony from a Plaintiff. A Plaintiff may have already testified he was so injured he could not walk more than a city block, but the Plaintiff’s social media posts show him dancing at a club, or doing a charity run, or walking on the beach. This type of situation can be ugly for a claim.
So what can you do? Be civil and courteous in your social media posts, you never know who might see them later. If you are in a crash and intend on making a claim, make your social media account private as soon as possible. Let your attorney know you use social media and let your attorney review your accounts. It might help your attorney make stronger claims or avoid problems later on. If you are in a crash, do not begin deleting social media posts or accounts. It could be illegal and the consequences of deleting it may be more significant than just dealing with it should your case end up in a lawsuit. Finally, if you do post after a crash, keep in mind how these posts may look later on. It is best to keep posts to a minimum and limit them to the smallest audience possible.