Ten years ago, social media was a faint idea for technologically savvy individuals. Over the past decade, social networking has become not only a fad, but a lifestyle. Facebook reported 1.11 billion monthly users at the end of March. On average, more than 250 million photos are uploaded every day on Facebook. Twitter reports over 200 million active users and over 400 million tweets being posted daily. In the first quarter of 2013, Instagram reached 100 million monthly active users. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
…a little scary, isn’t it?
Social media is everywhere, and the whole world uses it. From your best friend to insurance companies and attorneys, social networking sites have become a source for everyone.
What Does This Mean for Personal Injury Plaintiffs?
With over a billion users, there’s no mistaking that Facebook has come to play a significant role in today’s society. As social media continues to grow, we are also beginning to see it have an effect on the litigation process. Because many social media users post pictures and comments so frequently, defense attorneys have begun targeting the information contained within a plaintiff’s online profile or account in hopes of undermining some or all of their claims. Information that you post online can be used against you, and can therefore influence the result of your personal injury claim.
Everything on the web is public information and available in permanent electronic records that can be traced back to the user that posted it. Deleting a post or picture doesn't mean it isn't still accessible.
How Can Social Media Be Used Against You in a Lawsuit?
- Comments that seem too happy after an incident can be used by defense attorneys to show that claims for pain and suffering are false.
- Pictures, videos and even groups that you are a member of can make a judge or jury question their impression of who you are and whether or not you are truthful. For instance, the discovery of a photograph of a plaintiff riding a motorcycle after his testimony that he could no longer do so would clearly be detrimental to his case.
- Status updates are out there for everyone to see and they stay archived in your account. Something as simple as an energetic status update could be used against you by a defense attorney.
Jones & Swanson has a few tips to prevent your social networking content from being used against you when it counts the most:
1. Forego the use of your social media accounts following an accident.
For some people, social networking is an addiction, so this can be hard. If foregoing the use of your Facebook and other social media accounts is too difficult, at least substantially limit the use of them.
If you can’t stop cold turkey, then keep the following suggestions in mind:
2. Use Privacy Settings
They are there for a reason. You never know who may be searching for you or deciphering your account activity. Something you see as harmless can cause a great deal of damage in a defense attorney’s hands. Although you cannot rely solely on personal privacy settings, making use of them might be beneficial in the long run.
3. Monitor Friend Activity
Social networking sites allow not only you to post things about yourself, but friends as well. A friend posting a picture, video, or even checking you in somewhere can be taken out of context in court. So even though you are careful with the content that you post, social media allows others to post about you as well.
Searching for a lawyer for a personal injury case in Marietta?
Although the courts have yet to develop a clear rule, it appears comments, pictures, and “tweets” posted by personal injury plaintiffs both before and after an incident may be discoverable by the defense. So, while it is impractical to suggest your experience on Facebook should be filtered with an eye towards potential future accidents, once you have been injured it would be wise to forego discussing it on a blog or other social media outlet.
The Marietta personal injury attorneys at Jones & Swanson are experienced in representing injured clients and their families. If you or someone that you know has been injured because of another person’s negligence,
contact Marietta injury lawyer Andrew W. Jones. We want to offer advice and support every step of the way to ensure that Atlanta personal injury victims receive the
compensation that they deserve.