personal-injury-cases-and-social-media

Why Social Media & Personal Injury Cases Are Like Oil & Water

If you’re in the middle of a personal injury suit, do yourself a favour and stay off of social media.

It may sound harsh but the single biggest reason that personal injury cases don’t go well is when perception becomes reality. ‘What are you talking about?’, I can hear you saying.

It’s simple, really. Let me give you an example: You’re in the middle of a personal injury suit where you were the victim of slip and fall accident in a retail store. Your lawyer is making the argument that you have been unable to return to your normal functioning after falling, breaking your arm, hitting your head and twisting your ankle. Your doctor diagnosed a fracture, a concussion and a variety of other mobility issues.

In the midst of all this, your sister is getting married and while at the wedding someone tags you on a picture on a public Facebook page.

The photo shows you pretending to cut a rug on the dance floor, cast and all. The reality is that it was a 30-second joke and there’s no way you’re capable of actually dancing.  Even that 30 seconds put you in a lot of pain the next day.

However, when the insurance company sees your pictures online, and not the pain you endured afterwards, their perception will be that you are not seriously injured and your settlement negotiation just got a lot tougher for your lawyer. Perception is reality.

Is Social Media The New Surveillance?

In the past (and still in the present), insurance companies might use surveillance to build up their side of the case. But as I’ve said before, if you’re being 100% honest, it won’t be an issue.

For example, you could be claiming serious mobility issues, but feel well enough to mow your lawn and THAT’S the day the surveillance footage is captured. Never mind the three days you end up spending flat on your back afterwards from the over exertion.

This type of perception / reality disconnect has always been a problem in personal injury suits because of surveillance, but the addition of social media has seriously compounded the issue.

How To Minimize Perception Issues During Your Case

  • If you’re not willing or able to disengage from social media, then be 100% honest. All. Of. The. Time. Don’t put on an act, don’t write up a thick layer of how awful you feel. Every word that isn’t 100% true will be held up as a hit on your credibility.
  • If your health / physical condition changes at some point, inform your doctor and lawyer immediately. I can’t stress this enough. We can deal with changes if we know what they are. Even better if those changes are documented in your medical file.
  • Check the security settings on your social media accounts and check to see what others see. With Twitter, it’s one and the same, but with Facebook, you can verify what others are seeing:
    • Open your Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/YOURNAMEHERE)
    • To the right of your name and little picture of yourself, or whatever you have put in there, you will see a drop down menu that says: View Activity Log. If you click on the three little dots next to that (…), you will be able to select ‘View As’. Click it.
    • This view shows you what a stranger would see if they viewed your Facebook page and weren’t friends with you.
    • If a total stranger can see too much, it’s time to tighten up your security settings.
  • Lock your Instagram account.
  • Google yourself. Even if you barely use the internet, you might be surprised to find what links show up.

Finally, never post things, publicly or otherwise, that are inconsistent with your case. Sharing that picture of your sister’s wedding, that 30 second joke dance, could end up taking your case south. You don’t know who is friends with whom and who might see that picture.

I’m not saying you should be worried or jittery about every little thing you say or do, but a little common sense will go a long way to ensuring that your personal injury lawyer has the most solid case to present. Think before you post and your lawyer will thank you.

Give me a call if you have any questions or if you’re not sure about your position! I’m here to help.

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