After a traumatic car crash, it’s natural to want to reach out to family and friends for support, and it’s becoming more and more common for people to do this through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Unfortunately, when you use social media after a car accident, you may be setting a trap for yourself. The information you post on your Facebook profile or other social media account could damage or even destroy your case if you decide to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for your injuries and losses.
To help you understand how your social media activity can harm your legal case after a car accident, we’ve put together a list of four common ways that the defense attorneys in your case could use the posts, comments, and pictures from your social accounts against you.
1. Your Comments About the Crash Might Be Interpreted as Admissions of Fault
People say all sorts of things in the stressful moments after a crash, and they have a natural tendency to want to apologize, even when it wasn’t their fault. Unfortunately, these statements can hurt your case, especially when social media preserves them for the defense to review and use against you.
You can expect the attorneys hired by the insurance company for the other driver to go through anything you say about the crash online and look for material they can use against you. Even brief comments that seem innocent, like “I never saw them coming” or “I couldn’t stop” give the other side something to work with as they try to argue that you played a role in causing your own injuries. And in North Carolina, the lawyers hired by the insurance company can completely destroy your personal injury claim by using contributory negligence if they successfully argue that you were even slightly at fault.
2. Talking About Your Case Could Destroy Your Confidentiality
When you talk with your lawyer about your case, you have complete confidentiality. However, the details of your case only remain confidential if you’ve shared them with your lawyer and no one else.
When you share information about your car accident and subsequent recovery on social media, that information becomes public. This includes information about things like:
- The circumstances of the crash
- Your physical health
- Medical conditions
- Your mental health
- Your emotional state
Any confidentiality protections that would have prevented the defense from knowing about this information go out the window.
3. The Defense Might Use Your Activities to Claim You’re Not Really Hurt
Recovery from a car accident can be a long and difficult process, and every victim deserves bright moments in that journey. Attending a party with friends or having a night out at a sporting event might be the type of activity that lifts the burden of your injuries and recovery just long enough to keep you going.
For the other insurance company and their lawyers, though, any moment of celebration or joy that you document on social media is ammunition they can use to claim you’re exaggerating your pain and suffering.
It doesn’t matter that your photo or status update doesn’t tell the full story — maybe you were fighting through pain the entire time and barely managed to get out of the house. Still, you can expect the attorneys from the other side to pounce on anything they find in your social media feed and play it up as much as they can.
4. Even Being Too Active Online Might Hurt Your Case
So, you didn’t make any comments about the accident. You didn’t post any pictures of yourself at a birthday party or barbecue having a beer with friends. That means you’re in the clear, right?
Maybe not. The insurance company could still try to use your overall activity level on social media as evidence that you’re exaggerating your injuries. If you’re posting and commenting constantly and you seem a little too upbeat or “normal” in your activities, the defense may try to argue that you haven’t experienced as much physical and emotional pain as you say.
This seems completely ridiculous to the average person — what is an injured and recovering victim supposed to do besides use their phone or computer and keep up with friends and family on social media? Still, it’s something you need to be ready for because the defense will grasp at anything they can find to try and undermine your case.
The Best Solution? Stay Off Social Media as Much as Possible After a Car Accident
We know it might sound difficult, but we usually recommend that victims stay off social media completely after a car crash. It might feel lonely and frustrating to be out of touch with people, but imagine how angry and helpless you’ll feel later if your social media activity ends up hurting your case and costing you tens of thousands of dollars in potential damages that you need to pay medical bills and expenses.
In addition, you should understand that the privacy settings on your social media account don’t really matter when it comes to a lawsuit. Courts have repeatedly ruled that social media users can’t expect privacy when they post online. Even content marked or tagged as “private” — including direct messages to other users that are never intended to be seen by anyone else — can be used as evidence in lawsuits. So, there’s no combination of privacy settings that can make your social media content “safe” after a car accident.
Finally, if you’ve already posted information on your social accounts and you’re regretting it after you read this article, DO NOT go back and delete the posts or content in question. The court might view this as tampering with evidence, especially if the attorneys for the other side have already made a discovery request asking for access to your social media accounts. The consequences for this could be serious. Instead, leave your social media accounts alone and call an experienced car accident attorney right away for advice about your case.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident in North Carolina and you have questions about how you should handle social media or whether posts you’ve already created could cause trouble, the attorneys at Myers Law Firm can help. Give us a call for a free, no-risk consultation with an experienced attorney from our team right away.
Contact Myers Law Firm if You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Accident in North Carolina
At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the time after a serious car crash is often confusing, stressful, and scary. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll act as your advocate and use our legal experience and resources to fight relentlessly for you until your case reaches a resolution.
Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation with us. We’ll use this time to get to know you, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.
DiBianca, M. (2014, January). Discovery and preservation of social media evidence. Business Law Today. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/01/02_dibianca.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.