Social Media & Your Car Accident Case
Social media has changed how people stay connected. Once upon a time, you had to pick up the phone and call your family to find out what was going on. You also didn’t know anything about your high school classmates unless you attended your class reunion. With the rise of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, people can share details about their lives like never before. With a couple clicks of the mouse, you can see what someone’s grandchild looks like, where they vacationed, and even how well they have aged.
Social media also has a big impact on car accident negotiations. The reality is that you might make a statement or post that ends up hurting your case. At Karnas Law Firm, PLLC, we strive to strengthen our clients’ demand for fair compensation when injured in a car crash, so we need to talk about social media.
How Social Media Posts Harm Your Case
What you publish online after an accident matters. Here’s why:
- You might admit fault. Imagine if you say on Facebook that you hit someone. Suddenly, it looks like you are accepting responsibility for the accident. In Arizona, your comparative negligence will reduce your compensation based on your percentage of fault. Should you be 50% at fault, you will receive only half of your damages.
- You might minimize your pain and injuries. Posting pictures of yourself smiling and enjoying an afternoon in the pool following an accident makes it appear that you aren’t really hurt. This type of evidence cropped up in Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski accident case. The victim, who claimed he suffered a serious brain injury, took pictures of himself traveling the world after the collision. These photos undermined his claim that he was in real pain.
- You might show a history of dangerous behavior. Are you a teenager with pictures of yourself holding beer bottles? Those images give the impression you might drink and drive. Someone could point to these photos to show you probably contributed to your accident.
These are only some of the ways that social media posts can undermine your claim.
What to Do
If you have social media profiles, the last thing you should do is immediately delete them. That might qualify as destroying evidence and could result in sanctions. Instead, you should take sensible steps to minimize access:
- Stop posting. You should not post until your case is resolved. If you want to share pictures with friends, send them by email. Pick up the phone and call people. It takes a personal injury case about a year to settle, and you can wean yourself off social media for that long.
- Make your profiles private. Insurance adjusters and investigators like to surf the net to find information about you. There’s no need to let them see your profile.
- Avoid adding friends. You can wait until your case ends. Some investigators will create a dummy account and try to get you to friend them. That’s how they bypass the privacy settings.
- Never delete anything you have previously posed. As mentioned above, that’s a bad idea.
- Untag yourself from pictures. On Instagram and Facebook, friends can post a picture and tag you. For example, you might attend a friend’s wedding, and there’s a picture of you on their profile page. Remove the tag and ask your friend not to do that again.
Can a Lawyer or Investigator Really Access My Social Media Profile?
Possibly. The law in Arizona lets each side in a lawsuit request relevant information from each other. Your social media profile is certainly relevant—or could be. If you have the account private, the defendant would need a judge’s order to see your profile’s contents. Your lawyer can argue against giving them permission.
We have seen in the past investigators actually follow accident victims around and videotape them in public. You can be sure they are looking at Facebook and other social media sites trying to gather information on you.
If you have a profile, there is no reason to panic. We simply want you to be aware and take sensible steps to protect yourself. Also remember to tell your lawyer about your profiles because they might have other additional steps to take.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyer
Obtaining a settlement is a challenge for most car accident victims. We can help you in this process by reviewing all evidence and arguing forcefully that the defendant is to blame for hurting you. Call our firm to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.