When you've been injured in an accident and are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, the smartest thing that you can do to help yourself is to suspend your social media accounts. Most people simply don't realize how much information they give away about themselves through such sites, nor the way that the information can be used and viewed when taken out of context. Here are 3 good reasons you should suspend your social media sites until after you've spoken with your attorney (and maybe until after the case is settled).
1.) A picture can be worth a thousand words - and thousands of dollars.
It's fairly standard practice for attorneys to look through social media sites to see what they can glean about plaintiffs, defendants, and even witnesses that are involved in litigation. While a lot of the browsing may involve wading through photos of the family dog, every so often an attorney can find a photo that is the equivalent of gold, especially where a personal injury case is involved.
Remember your niece's wedding? You were in pain and miserable the entire time, but you took your pain pills on time, plastered a smile on your face so that you didn't dampen the celebration, and smiled for the camera. Your niece put it on her social media page, tagged you, and the defendant's attorney now wants to use it to show the jury that you certainly didn't seem like you were in terrible back pain.
2.) Talk is cheap - and it can really cost you.
If you're hurt, you might be angry, especially if you feel like the accident was the result of a foolish or highly irresponsible act by the other party involved. You might have things that you'd like to say to or about that person that are off-color, insensitive, and generally inflammatory, but you realize that it's not appropriate to say such things, especially in a court of law.
However, if you let yourself vent on your blog or social media pages, you might as well walk into court and say every off-color word yourself - because the opposing attorney is probably going to have everything printed out for you to read aloud during the trial. You don't want a jury to judge your attitude and not your injuries, so keep your anger out of public view.
3.) Your injury might go back months - but what you said a year ago may be what really hurts you.
You've probably made hundreds of status updates, comments and posts to your social media sites in the last year or two alone. Do you remember all of them? Probably not. If you think that there is nothing that is particularly interesting in your posts over the last few years, and certainly nothing that could pertain to your current situation, you could be very wrong.
For example, many people who have been badly injured develop anxiety or depression. Your anxiety and depression is part of your personal injury suit, because it's related to the accident you were in.
However, what if six months before your accident you were struggling emotionally for some reason? If you posted status updates saying you were feeling "depressed" or "sad," the defendant's attorney could point to those posts as proof that your depression and anxiety predated your accident.
Attorneys seeking to find evidence to use against you can be remarkably patient when combing through social media pages, so consult with your own attorney early on about how to handle any social media pages you maintain in order to protect your claim to a fair settlement. Contact a firm like Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC for professional legal advice.