According to Pew Research Center, the vast majority of Americans — 7 out of 10 — use some form of social media. While young adults still are the most likely to use social media at 90%, all age groups, from 50 to 64 (69%) to 65+ (40%) engaged in some form of social media usage. We use it a variety of ways: to connect with each other, get news, share information (including about our own lives), and to be entertained.
While there are many positive aspects of social media, using it can have many unintended negative consequences. Nowhere is this truer than in personal injury cases. Even the most innocuous activity on social media can have disastrous results if you are in the middle of a personal injury case.
If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, it is important to understand how your social media can be used against you. Read on to learn more about how social media can affect your case — and what you can do to protect yourself.
How Social Media Posts Can Hurt Your Case
After an accident, you may be homebound, bored, and more than a little lonely. Social media may seem like a great outlet: a way to talk to people and to share about what happened to you. But depending on what you say and share, you could end up damaging your case.
For example, you may say something on social media that contradicts what you have claimed in your personal injury case. Perhaps you suffered a herniated disk in a car accident — but then you post pictures of your garden with a statement about how it feels good to get out and do yard work. You might not have done anything strenuous or anything that would hurt your back, but a post like that could be used against you.
Similarly, if you “check in” somewhere or tag your location, it may indicate that you are not as injured as you claim to be (or at least, that is what the insurance company will argue). If you are checking in at an amusement park, the bowling alley, or even at a local big box store on a regular basis, it could be argued that you must be doing well if you are as active as your social media posts would indicate.
Social media can also be very misleading. A picture of you smiling may lead to a claim that you aren’t suffering from your injury. A snapshot of your kids on a boat may lead to a question of how you were able to take that picture — which may call the severity of your injuries into question.
Finally, comments from friends and family on social media may also be problematic, even if you are very careful about your posts and activity. Your family and friends might make offhand remarks about seeing you somewhere or even about waiting for your “big paycheck” from your accident. These types of comments could put you in a negative light.
Because social media posts can so easily be twisted, it is vital that anyone involved in a personal injury case be extremely cautious about what they say and do online after an accident. If you have any questions about what you can post, you should consult with your personal injury attorney in Miami.
Are Social Media Posts Admissible in Florida?
While it may seem unfair, your social media posts can generally be used against you in court. In Florida, social media posts are generally admissible, as long as a lawyer can establish that they are relevant, authentic and not hearsay.
Several Florida courts have already addressed the issue of social media posts in personal injury cases. For example, a woman sued Target after slipping and falling in one of its stores. Target sought photographs from her Facebook page for two years prior to her fall.
Although the woman objected to disclosing her Facebook records, the trial court — and the court of appeals — ordered her to produce the photographs. According to the appellate court, content from Facebook is not privileged or protected, and may be relevant to proving an injury in a personal injury case.
While some social media posts may be considered hearsay, if the content is your own, it will be admissible. That is because there is an exception to the hearsay rule for statements made by the opposing party. Under this rule, the defendant in a personal injury case can have your own statements — including the ones you make on Facebook — admitted (provided other requirements are met).
Because social media content may be admitted in court, it is all the more important to be careful about what you post when you are in the midst of a case. Anything that you post, comment or otherwise share can be used against you — and you don’t want something from Facebook or Instagram to ruin your chances of recovering for your injuries.
Injured? We Can Help
After an accident, it can be difficult to know where to turn to for help. Kaire & Heffernan has offered skilled, compassionate advocacy for more than 20 years. Our firm is dedicated to representing victims of all types of personal injuries — working hard to get you the compensation that you deserve.