Social Media and Your Personal Injury Claim
Following a Manhattan auto accident, many people tend to reach out to friends and family, whether it be to simply tell them about how they’re doing, or maybe to ask for an attorney recommendation. Since actually talking to people on the phone is so old-fashioned these days, many people take to their favorite social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram. They may post pictures of the accident scene to include damage to their car or the damage done to the other vehicle. Accident victims may leave comments along with the photos and then engage in conversation with other people about the accident. This is a bad idea!
Your social media accounts are always up for public consumption. If you have been in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you should take extreme caution regarding posting anything on social media related to your case. Even if you attempt to make your posts, tweets, or photos private, any person can take a screenshot and it will be memorialized forever. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and other social media can negatively affect your personal injury claim.
Posting About Your Manhattan Car Accident on Social Media is BAD
First of all, what you post on social media sites is usually “discoverable,” which means that when the defense attorneys question you at a deposition or present written questions to your attorney that you must respond to, NYC courts are routinely requiring Plaintiffs to turn over their Social Media Account Information, including your “handle,” which is the name you use on such sites. Even this can be damaging. If your handle on Facebook is “Speedy Steve,” the defense attorneys might spin this to suggest you like to speed and were probably speeding at the time of the accident. Is this a great argument- probably not, but an example of how Social Media can be used against you.
What if in a conversational tone with someone on Facebook you post something like, “It all happened so fast and I was tired at the time too!” The defense attorneys will try to use this to hurt your case and argue that you were driving drowsy at the time of the accident, which either caused or contributed to the crash.
What if you were injured in a Manhattan bus accident and were seriously injured?
After some time passes, you go on vacation and post pictures of yourself dancing or engaging in some other physical activity while away. The defense attorneys will try to use this to show that you could not really have been that hurt – you were vacationing and dancing the night away only a year after the accident! Then again, if you didn’t try to dance or vacation after the accident, the defense will argue, “Well how do you know you couldn’t dance after the accident if you never tried.” They have arguments either way, but the bottom line is that social media posts concerning the accident or your activities after the accident can hurt your case.
Your Personal Injury Claim
Whether you have an ongoing personal injury case related to a car accident, medical malpractice, a dog bite, or slip and fall, anything you put on social media may be discoverable by the opposing side. Additionally, anything you post about the case or trial itself can be used against you. A courtroom, judge, jury, and legal proceedings deserve respect. The best way to give that respect to the legal process is to avoid social media commentary regarding your case.
You May Post Things That Are Downright Harmful to Your Case
What if you inadvertently post something like, “The last time I had my car in for service was over a year ago,” or “It was so dark it was hard to see?” This can be used against you too.
Your Life – Filtered
Social media can filter the truth. If you have a personal injury case in court and are showing pictures of you skydiving or skiing down black diamond slopes, this can be used against you in a court of law. Even dancing or going out with friends can be twisted to paint a picture of you that is incorrect. Suspicions can easily be raised regarding whether you are telling the truth regarding the severity of your injuries. Even innocent pictures, blog posts, comments, or tweets can be taken out of context and used against you to prove that your injuries are not as serious as you allege. Do not post anything on social media until your personal injury case is completed.
Never Delete Anything From Social Media
If you made a mistake and posted something on social media that you should not have, never delete it. The law is clear on this topic. If you decide to delete anything you posted on social media, the court may consider it obstruction of justice or the destruction of evidence. If you do post something you regret, simply leave it, and try to remember not to post anything incriminating in the future.
Talk to Your Lawyer Instead of Posting on Social Media
Communications between you and your lawyer are confidential and your lawyer can counsel and advise you without concern that those communications will be used against you. As discussed above, however, social media posts and social media commentary are probably not going to be deemed protected communications.
If you are in a car accident in Manhattan, refrain from posting pictures concerning the accident or your activities after the accident. Instead, speak to a Manhattan Car accident lawyer and get the proper legal advice and representation. Call Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. at 212-518-2095.
In over a decade of legal practice, Attorney Michael Redenburg began his career defending cases for the clients of insurance companies. Initially defending no-fault claims at a Long Island-based law firm, he then moved on to a Manhattan-based firm where he defended the clients of insurance carriers in auto accident and premises liability matters.