Social Media Issues in Litigation

The hand of a person navigating the screen of their cell phone.

While your personal social media accounts may feel like private spaces where you can be free to post what you want, it’s important to understand that what you have been posting online may be sifted through by lawyers if you are involved in a personal injury case. In fact, over a decade ago, a Supreme Court judge in Suffolk County granted a request by an insurance company’s lawyers to obtain access to an injured person’s current and historical social media accounts, including all deleted pages and relevant information.

What may feel like a gross invasion of privacy, is unfortunately very much legal, and happens often nowadays due to the fact that about 82% of the population in the US has a social media profile. Here’s what you need to know about social media issues in litigation.

What you say online may be used against you

If you bring a case to court seeking compensation for injuries someone else has caused you, you may be forced to permit their insurance company lawyers to see what you’ve been posting. These lawyer’s sole purpose is to try and find something, anything, to smear the person their client injured, with the ultimate goal of trying to escape having to fairly compensate them. What you may have thought was an innocent post or a flippant remark could be used completely out of context against you.

The optics of a post

With the sole goal to avoid having to fairly compensate you, the defendant’s lawyers will look for anything you posted that they could spin into a narrative that works in their client’s favor. This could mean if you post a picture of you dancing at a wedding, they could argue that your back, knee, etc. is fine, even if you had to take pain medication beforehand and/or paid dearly for it the next day.

If you post pictures of a trip you took that was planned before the accident, they may argue that people who are “really” injured don’t travel. To them, it doesn’t matter how long you saved for that trip, or if you haven’t had a vacation in two years, or that you just wanted a relaxing trip away. When something you post can be painted in a certain way to the jury by the defense attorney, the details surrounding your post are not as relevant as you might think.

Are you able to fix the narrative?

While the defense attorney may say that you will get your turn to “explain” the truth behind the post, once they parade these narratives in front of the jury, it’s over. You now look like the bad, un-injured person who is just looking to win the “lottery” against the poor, defenseless person that just so happened to hit you in the rear, totaling your car. Even though this seems unfair, these “stories” the defense attorney’s make up from your social media posts are often extremely effective in helping them achieve their ultimate goal.

Be careful about what you post on social media

While it may feel unfair to have to censor what you post if you are bringing a case to court to seek compensation for injuries someone else caused you, it could make a major difference in the long term. Since the playing field in accident/injury cases is already more than fair to insurance companies, the last thing you want to do is give them any reason to question your actions. The less you post, the less the defense attorneys can find to use against you and once the case is over, you can continue your regular cadence of posting. It is also important to ask friends and family not to tag you in their posts.

Social media usage is one of the most popular online activities with Facebook remaining the most popular platform followed closely by Instagram and TikTok. In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide and the number is expected to increase to almost 4.4 billion by 2025. Even though social media may feel like a safe space to post private and intimate things, it is always important that you are careful about what you post, you never know who will be allowed to see it.

Personal Injury Lawyer in New York

Victims of car accidents can be left with a lifetime of hardship due to life changing injuries and when these accidents occur because of another driver’s negligence, victims have the right to be fully compensated for the losses they suffer as a result. Mark T. Freeley, The North Shore Injury Lawyer, is passionate about helping clients every step of the way and has decades of experience in representing clients who were victims in car accidents. Give him a call at 631-495-9435 to discuss your auto accident and take advantage of a free consultation where you can have your questions answered and learn more about your legal options.