Social media use has become a part of the average American’s life. For example, a 2021 study found that around 69% of American adults use Facebook. Many of those social media users post personal information and images online. However, how you use social media should change if you become involved in a personal injury or product liability lawsuit.
During a lawsuit, online posts may be used as evidence to negatively affect your case. Courts typically allow social media posts to be used as evidence in the trial because of social media’s public nature and the belief that social media provides adequate insight into one’s personal life. Opposing parties may use information gathered on social media sites to prove that you did not suffer an injury or that your injuries were not severe enough to warrant compensation.
For example, after an auto accident, you may have back and shoulder injuries. Posting images of yourself on social media playing baseball and hiking may negatively affect your claim. If the images are introduced in court, a jury or judge may find that your injuries were inadequate and either limit your damages, dismiss your case completely, or even allow the opposing party to counterclaim against you for making a fraudulent claim of injury.
To avoid the negative impacts of social media use during a personal injury lawsuit, consider the following tips:
- Do not post about your case or your discussions with your attorney. These posts can provide previously confidential information to the opposing party. Posts can include status updates, uploading pictures or videos, and commenting on other’s pages.
- Do not accept friends or follow requests from people you do not know. Friends or followers often have increased access to your profile and see beyond privacy settings. The person you added may work with the opposing party or insurance companies and want access to your complete profile as evidence.
- Check the privacy settings on your accounts and make sure they are set to private. This will limit what others can see on your profile. However, information or images posted on private pages may not remain private. Opposing counsel may get a court order to access your account and then have complete access to your profile. It is safest to limit posting on any form of social media, particularly anything related to your case.
- Do not post images on social media sites and un-tag any images others post of you. You should also request that the original poster remove the image from the website, as any images may be used by the opposing party as evidence.
- Ask your friends and family not to post information about your case on their social media pages. Updates posted by others may have the same impact as an update posted by you.
This list was derived from Will Davidson LLP’s article on Lexology.com, which can be found here. Following these steps may limit the impact of social media on your case.
Before you post a selfie or a status update, consider the impact that the post may have on your lawsuit. However, if you have posted a status or image on your social media page that may impact your case, talk to your attorney for guidance on how the post may affect your claim.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a personal injury or product liability attorney, please contact our Minneapolis office toll-free at (800) 504-0281. If you prefer, please complete the form on our Contact Us page and a representative will be in contact with you shortly.
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