Privacy is a word that gets thrown around a lot today. What can others find out about us in the internet age, that used to be considered private? The answer is a lot. Before the advent of the internet, about as much as anyone could find out about you, without hours of investigation, is your phone number and address in the phone book. Further information could be gathered, but from specialized sources which were either expensive to access, or difficult to find.
Today a determined individual can obtain comprehensive information about almost anyone by spending a few hours in front of a computer screen and searching publicly available internet sources. This ability to unveil people’s lives in shockingly extensive detail has been enhanced by the advent of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, among others, where people share details of their lives with loved ones, and perhaps unintentionally, with others who they may not even know.
Credibility is the key to your claim
Part 6 of this series discussed the legal process of an accident claim. One of the first steps in a lawsuit is called Discovery, where both sides are free to develop evidence which will support their side or may impeach the other side. This information is shared before trial with both party’s lawyers.
It’s not uncommon for social media posts to inform others of a vacation just taken, or any other activity in which the poster has participated, with pictures and commentary. While these types of posts may seem innocuous to the poster, to a lawyer who is an adversary in a court proceeding, these posts can be gold, and can have a huge influence on the credibility of claims made by you, which can affect and sometimes negate your potential settlement.
Accident claim settlements usually consist of compensatory damages, or payments for actual expenses, such as medical bills, prescriptions, lost salary at works, travel expenses to the doctor, and other easily documented evidence; and punitive damages, which include pain and suffering and may not be so easily supported by documentary evidence. Settlements made in lawsuits regarding pain and suffering are usually determined by a jury who may be swayed if evidence presented by the opposing attorney can cause them to question your credibility. Seemingly Innocuous posts on social media may be construed by the adverse counsel to tell a story that you didn’t intend.
It is critical to your case that any information shared with others and especially posted on social media platforms present only items supporting your claim. For example, if during your recovery from your accident, you post pictures of having a nice day with kids or grandkids, which show or even suggest an activity which your claim suggests you should not have been able to do during that stage of recovery, can be construed in such a way by the opposing side to cause the jury to question that part of your claim, and your credibility in general.
Be careful using Social Media during your Accident Claim
During any lawsuit, but particularly during an accident claim, you should keep personal information, especially concerning activities in which you engage, closely held. Our website contains more information and an infographic which itemizes some do’s and don’ts with regard to social media. The steps cover privacy settings, considerations for posting photos, which friend requests to accept, which discussion groups you should avoid, among many other considerations during the period of your accident claim.
However, realize that even if you’ve done all the right steps and you believe your privacy settings will protect you, that during the discovery process, the defendant’s or their insurance company’s attorney can access your social media posts and profile via a subpoena. Its best during the period of your claim to minimize use of social media entirely. Follow your lawyer’s instructions during this time to minimize your exposure.
The Richard Harris Law Firm is committed to getting you the highest settlement for your claim
Using an attorney to represent you during an accident claim will allow you to receive the highest settlement for your injuries. The lawyers of the Richard Harris Law Firm have the experience and know the law and will give you the advice you need to maximize your settlement. If you’ve been injured in an Auto Accident, call our office today at (702) 444-4444.
Richard Harris discusses Social Media Effects