Social media has changed the way that we interact and communicate with each other, as well as impacted the kind of personal information that is available to the public. Seventy-two percent of internet users are active on social media, Facebook has more than 1.15 billion users, Twitter has more than 550 million users, and about two billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube. As our reliance on social media increases, lawyers and investigators continue to use social media networks to inform their personal injury cases.
In personal injury cases, various factors impact liability and damages including the causes of the accident, severity of the injuries, and how the injuries impact the plaintiff’s life. During discovery, lawyers gather information from a number of sources such as depositions, interrogatories, police reports, medical records, and more. Since social media sources provide a treasure trove of information, lawyers and investigators will also search social media platforms for evidence that suggests conflicting statements, exaggeration of injuries, negligence, liability, and other pertinent information.
Finding the smoking gun on a social media site is relatively rare, but social media posts can cause cracks in the armor of a case. For example, if a plaintiff claims they sustained significant injuries after a car accident, but then post pictures playing sports or engaging in ordinary physical activities, the defense can use this to discredit the plaintiff’s injury claims.
If you have suffered a personal injury and are contemplating making a claim, you must strongly consider the consequences social media posts can have. A single picture, comment, “like” or “dislike” click can be taken out of context to negatively impact your case. It is greatly advisable to discontinue all social media use as soon as possible. Protecting some social media accounts with privacy settings does not fully prevent an adversary from getting access to the information. You should also be cautious of the social media information that is linked to you via other people’s profiles.
The Bottom Line
What should you do if you are involved in a personal injury case? Do not use social media. This media can cause a great deal of harm to your case. However, most people will ignore this advice because social media has become integrated into their daily routine. So, if you will continue to use social media during a case, please adhere to the following four recommendations
- Post as little as possible
- Be accurate and complete
- Check privacy settings
- Do not talk to strangers
Call the sharks if you have been involved in personal injury accident, and we can help explain your legal options. 312.878.2357
View our previous blog post, Illinois Rules of the Road 2014: Eight New Laws