As a plaintiff’s personal injury law firm, we always advise our clients to shut down their Facebook and Twitter accounts during the claims process.
But let’s be honest, this is easier said than done.
At the very, very least, during a personal injury claim, be careful about what you post to social media accounts and remember, nothing is private.
Private Profiles Aren’t Private
When we ask a client of ours to shut down their Facebook or Twitter page, the first response we get is a bargain; “what if I set my profile to private?”
Guess what? Just because a Facebook or Twitter profile is private doesn’t mean that it can’t be accessed in the event of a lawsuit.
In fact, your ENTIRE Facebook can be subpoenaed during the discovery process. This includes private messages, chat logs, status updates, and even your Facebook Game accounts.
Yes, you read that right, if the defense asks for it, a jury can look at your FarmVille account.
What Will The Defense Do With My Facebook?
The second option clients suggest when we ask them to shut down their page is not posting about the accident at all. “I won’t post any injury pictures,” “I’ll have friends call me about it instead,” Etc.
While the defense would likely use posts about the accident against you, that’s not all they’re looking for. Defense attorneys might look at your behavior after the accident.
For example, a client of ours had a vacation scheduled but was injured in a severe car accident. Not wanting to cancel the flight and hotel, she decided to go ahead and go on the vacation.
She was in pretty bad shape while on vacation, but tried to enjoy it anyway; not doing anything too physical, but generally having a good time.
Then, our client posted the pictures to Facebook.
Of course, the defense had a field day with this new information. They sent the pictures to us, essentially saying “does this look like someone who’s injured to you?”
Experienced attorneys at our firm were still able to recover money for our client, but we’re convinced that we could have gotten more if she didn’t post any vacation photos to her social media account. Check out the video below for Josh‘s account of the story:
Getting Tagged In Pictures
Remember, you’re not the only one who can post on your Facebook wall. A Philadelphia personal injury lawyer wrote about a situation that occurred in Jefferson County.
A woman who was injured in a car accident happened to be quite the “gym rat” and posted a status about going to the gym with a few friends. The post was dated shortly after her car accident.
This wasn’t a case of ours, so we don’t know if the woman was exaggerating her injuries, or if she thought “walking it off” would do her some good. The bottom line was that she posted about doing a very physical activity right after a car accident.
While you might say to yourself that you’d never post vacation photos or gym statuses after a car accident, what if these people didn’t bring it upon themselves?
We’re all familiar with the “tag” tool on Facebook. Most of the time we laugh off how unflattering Facebook tags can be compared to your own pictures, but in personal injury cases, they can cost you real money.
If the defense caught sight of that photo tag of you on a treadmill before you could “untag” yourself, you might find yourself in a similar situation as the cases above.
Is It Legal For Them To Subpoena Your Social Media?
In this day in age, it seems pretty unfair that attorneys can subpoena your information, but yes. It is legal.
It sucks, but it’s legal.
Mediums of communication change from generation to generation. Our great-grandparents sent letters to one another, our parents spoke on the telephone, our generation communicates on Facebook.
The laws haven’t caught up to this new mode of communication yet, and unfortunately, judges are tending to side with the defense attorneys.
When they ask for your social media information, they get it all – even your private chat conversations.
What To Say On Social Media After A Crash
Let us reiterate; if you’ve been injured in a car accident, DELETE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS.
If you have to say something to your friends to let them know that you’re unplugging for a bit, just make a status update or tweet with the basics; “Hey guys, I was in a car accident recently. I’m going to turn my social media accounts off for a while. You know my phone number if you need to contact me.” Then follow through. Delete the account.
Don’t avoid posting, don’t make your account private, delete it. It’ll be there in a few months when your case is settled.
Personal injury questions? Call us at 314-444-4444 for a free consultation.