How Social Media Can Affect a Personal Injury Case
In legal terms, personal injury cases encompass instances where an individual sustains harm due to the negligence or recklessness of another party. These cases can include various scenarios such as car accidents, slips and falls, medical malpractice, or injuries on someone else's property. The injured party, the plaintiff, seeks compensation for the damages incurred due to the accident. These damages can span medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related losses.
Social media has become an integral part of modern society, with a substantial percentage of the population actively engaging on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and X. As per the Pew Research Center, around 70% of Americans use at least one social media platform as of 2021.
In the context of personal injury cases, the content shared on social media platforms holds significant weight. Legal proceedings allow for introducing relevant and probative evidence encompassing social media content. Thus, a plaintiff's social media posts could be admitted as evidence if they shed light on the extent of their injuries or contradict the claims regarding their suffering.
This article will delve into the crucial dos and don'ts surrounding social media use in the context of personal injury cases. By outlining these guidelines, the aim is to empower injured parties to safeguard their claims for rightful compensation. Understanding what to do and what to avoid on social media during an ongoing legal case can impact the outcome and protect the plaintiff’s rights.
At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., our team delivers sound legal counsel and representation to clients in Kansas City facing personal injury claims. For those seeking legal advice and representation, please don't hesitate to contact us at (888) 398-2277.
The Dos of Social Media Use in PI Cases
In personal injury cases and social media usage, it's imperative to comprehend the Dos that can safeguard your legal position.
Understanding Privacy Settings
Privacy settings offer control over who views your posts, limiting visibility to only trusted connections. Adjusting settings to restrict public access while vetting friend requests and connections aids in maintaining confidentiality.
Still, these settings offer no guaranteed protection. Courts can grant access to supposedly private content if deemed relevant to the case. The illusion of 'private' or 'friends only' settings is not a legal safeguard during litigation.
Consulting Legal Counsel
Before posting or sharing anything on social media, seeking guidance from legal counsel is pivotal. Experienced attorneys can offer tailored advice on what to post, the implications of various types of content, how to manage friend requests, and the broader impact of social media activity on your ongoing case.
Preserving Evidence and Documenting Injuries
It's crucial to capture and document injuries without compromising the integrity of your case. Carefully gathering and preserving evidence, such as photographs or descriptions of injuries, can significantly bolster your claim without inadvertently weakening it.
The Don’ts of Social Media Use in PI Cases
Steering clear of certain social media pitfalls is crucial in personal injury cases.
Avoid Case-Related Discussions or Posts
Refraining from discussing or posting about the ongoing case on social media is paramount. Even seemingly harmless comments or updates can inadvertently affect the case's integrity or be misconstrued, potentially impacting the claim's validity.
Refrain from Contradictory Content Sharing
Insurance companies meticulously comb social media platforms, seeking evidence contradicting the claimed injuries. Posts, photos, or videos that are contrary to stated injuries can significantly undermine the legitimacy of a personal injury claim. Seemingly innocuous updates might inadvertently serve as an unintended admission of health or contradict the claimed injuries, leading to potential claim reduction or denial.
Limit Interactions on Case-Related Posts
Restricting interactions with individuals posting about the case is essential. Engaging or commenting on posts related to the ongoing legal proceedings can inadvertently compromise the case's integrity or lead to misunderstandings that may affect the claim's outcome.
Legal Implications and Consequences of Social Media Use During PI Cases
What individuals share on social media platforms can undergo rigorous scrutiny in a legal context. Courts often consider such content admissible evidence, assessing its relevance and impact on ongoing personal injury cases.
Landmark cases have carved out a path through the legal thicket regarding social media's role in personal injury litigation. These precedents are the breadcrumbs that guide current and future cases, illustrating how courts have interpreted the admissibility of social media content. From photographs of a claimant climbing a mountain when they're supposedly bedridden to status updates that call into question the extent of their emotional distress, these cases form a legal mosaic that paints a clear picture: what you share online can and will be scrutinized under the judicial lens.
A single social media post can swiftly undermine the carefully constructed narrative of a personal injury claim. Content showing physical activity, travel, or social engagements can directly conflict with severe injury claims, casting doubt on the case's credibility. Opposing counsel often scrutinizes this digital footprint, searching for discrepancies that could diminish or nullify compensation.
The urge to hit 'delete' on potentially damaging social media content can be strong. Still, this act can have serious legal repercussions. Courts may view the deletion of posts as destruction of evidence, which can lead to sanctions or adverse inferences against the party who destroyed it. The takeaway is to resist the impulse to purge your online history and, instead, discuss any concerns with your legal counsel.
Strategic Social Media Management in Personal Injury Cases
Employing proactive strategies in managing social media during a personal injury case is paramount. Conducting an audit of your online presence, implementing stringent privacy settings, and exercising caution in future posts can significantly mitigate potential risks. In certain situations, opting for a temporary social media hiatus might be prudent to avoid inadvertent pitfalls.
Seeking legal counsel is strongly encouraged when navigating social media amidst ongoing legal matters. Experienced attorneys can offer tailored advice, helping align your online activities with the legal requirements and safeguard your case.
At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., we understand the complexities of personal injury law and the nuanced role that social media can play in a case. Our experienced attorneys in Kansas City, MO, are here to guide clients through the legal process and help them manage their online presence effectively.
Please schedule a consultation by calling us at (888) 398-2277 or contact us online.