Use of Social Media in Pennsylvania Car Accident Cases
Social media has become a central part of our lives. It is much more than a way to connect with friends or potential jobs. Twitter “tweets” now make appearances on newscasts and Facebook “likes” sprinkle across the Web. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media outlets are also showing up in the courtroom.
Take, for example, a young adult who admitted to drunk driving in a Facebook post by saying: “Drivin drunk…. Classic. 😉 but to whoever’s vehicle I hit, I am sorry :P” (published in the Daily Astorian). That man is now facing time in jail after one of his Facebook friends sent his post to a police officer. The owner of the vehicle may also be able to use that post to recover compensation for the damage.
While social media does not make an appearance in personal injury cases as often as in criminal and family law cases, it can still play a role. Young adults, in particular, are quick to admit guilt through conversations with friends or even direct social media posts. “Ugh. Caused an accident today” is certainly a helpful admission to accident victims trying to recover compensation for their injuries.
Yet, while social media can provide helpful information in a case, it can also hurt it. Personal injury lawyers aren’t the only people perusing the Web; insurance companies and defense lawyers will also use social media to their advantage. For example, a picture of a healthy-looking, smiling person taken days after an accident could conflict with a plaintiff’s account of his or her injuries. The same is true of someone’s Google+ admission that he or she “went for a run” after suffering injuries.
Tips for Using Twitter, Google + and Facebook During a Personal Injury Case
What, then, can you do to prevent an insurance company from using your social media accounts against you?
First and foremost, and this is true no matter what type of lawsuit you are involved in: DO NOT USE SOCIAL MEDIA. That’s a tough one, especially if you want to connect with friends about your accident and injuries. Yet, it is the only way you can fully protect against an insurance company’s use of your information.
If you cannot entirely remove yourself from social media, then at least do not post videos or photos or describe your activities. Also, stay away from talking about the accident, your injuries, the medical help you received and the case itself. No matter how innocent the information, insurance companies may find a way to twist it to their advantage.
Finally, take a look at your privacy settings to ensure that your information is as private as possible. While privacy settings can do little to fully secure your information, they can help you control who sees what you post when you post it.
An Accident Attorney Can Help Manage Your Reputation
You, your family and friends, your doctors and your personal injury lawyer know that you are telling the truth about your Philadelphia car accident. Yet, insurance companies, juries and judges need reasons to believe (or not believe) you before they will give you a reasonable settlement, verdict or order. And insurance companies do not want to believe you — if they can find a reason to show you are being even a bit dishonest, they will milk it for all it is worth.
That is why it is important to speak with an attorney soon after a car accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you fight for fair compensation while devaluing any insurance company accusations caused by social media or other sources.