Social Media is only free until it costs you your settlement
In recent years, it has become so commonplace to document our lives on Social Media, that sometimes we forget that it’s not the same as a private conversation with friends. When you file a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit, the insurance company will do everything they can to defend their client and themselves. First and foremost that means proving that their client was not at fault and second it means proving that you really weren’t injured. Things you may not even imagine to be a problem could be used to convince a jury that you are not really as injured as you say you are. The best advice is to be safe and refrain from any posting on Social Media while your case is pending.
The Social Media ban starts at the beginning
Everything you write or photograph from the moment of your injury can become evidence to dispute your injury claim. If it’s a car accident, avoid posting any information about the accident or even the fact that you were in an accident. A post from the accident scene or the hospital can lead a jury to believe that your injuries were not severe enough to take your focus away from your phone even for a few hours. In the case of medical malpractice, avoid any posts about your condition or your treatment. For example, if you complain about your doctor or prescribed treatment, you are giving the defendant the opportunity to use your words against you. They may convince a jury that you were not inclined to follow the doctor’s orders and probably didn’t, so the injury may have been your fault.
What may seem like a simple innocent post may contain unintended statements as to the seriousness of your injuries or your own fault in causing the accident.
A picture is worth a thousand words
Posting pictures of yourself having fun is what Facebook and Instagram are all about, but while your case is pending, you have to resist the urge. If your case is based on constant and chronic suffering due to a serious back injury, any photo showing you engaging in sports or other physically strenuous activities will cast a doubt on your claim. If, for example, you are unable to return to work in a warehouse because you are unable to lift heavy objects, the defendant may use a picture of you holding your child to convince the jury that you are exaggerating your injury. Even things you may not consider relevant can affect your claim. A picture of you having fun with your friends can be used by the insurance company to dispute your claim that your injury prevents you from enjoying the activities you were able to do before the accident.
Spread the word
I’ve convinced you that you should abstain from Social Media while your case is pending, so you’re safe right? Wrong! Your friends and family pose as much danger to your case as you do yourself. Tagging friends is as much a part of Social Media as the duck face selfie. You may be in the background of a picture of the bride and groom on the dance floor at your cousin’s wedding and of course, you get tagged. The insurance company will make the argument that your back pain wasn’t so bad that night to keep you from dancing.
Tell your friends and family not to tag you in any pictures and better yet, set your security settings to give you the chance to review any tags before they show up on your timeline.
Always look behind you
One thing that is often overlooked is the past. It’s important to review your Social Media profiles for past posts that may mislead a jury into believing your injury was a pre-existing condition or that you may not be credible. Exaggerated posts about how bad the pain was after you dropped a book on your foot or how often you’ve been knocked out while playing football can call into question whether it was the accident or medical error that is causing your pain, or just your way of life.
Have we met before?
I bet if you look through your Friends list, there will be some or maybe even a lot of names you don’t recognize. You may have met someone at a party five years ago and they sent you a friend request, or maybe it’s a friend of a friend. If you’re in the habit of accepting anyone who sends a request, it’s time to break that habit. If your public profiles are not yielding enough evidence against you, an insurance company may use a fake account to request your friendship in order gain access to more of your posts.
Be very careful who you accept as a friend!
Discuss any issues with your attorney immediately
Instead of making a one by one determination, the safest thing to do is make sure your profile and all past posts are private. Use the security settings to limit access to your posts to only your friends, or even better, to only you. If you think that a social media post or something else written online by you or anyone else could harm your case, speak to your attorney immediately and let him know about the issue. It will be much worse if you ignore it and it comes up as a surprise to your attorney at trial.
Protect your rights
If you’ve suffered a serious injury or have been the victim of medical malpractice, your first concern should always be getting the proper medical attention. The next thing you should do is to speak to an experienced Attorney to be sure that you are justly compensated for your injuries and that your rights are protected. Attorney Gregory W. Bagen has been serving the Putnam County community from his office in Brewster for 40 years. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence or you believe may have been the victim of medical malpractice, give Greg a call and take advantage of a free confidential consultation. Once he knows what happened, he can give you the facts about the law that you need to make an informed decision about how to proceed. If you do have a case, he’ll fight to get you the compensation you need to move past this terrible tragedy.
Remember, there are NO UPFRONT FEES and you PAY NOTHING unless you receive compensation.