Why You Should Be Careful Posting on Social Media After a Car Accident
When you’ve just been involved in a traumatic car accident, it’s natural to want to reach out to your loved ones for support as you muddle through what to do next.
But if your preferred method of reaching out is to post on social media, you may be in trouble.
The truth is that posting on social media after a car accident can have a serious impact on the outcome of your case—and not necessarily a positive one. Here’s why you should think before you post.
How Defense Attorneys Leverage Social Media After a Car Accident
Social media has long been sold as a way to bring us closer together. Unfortunately, that feature is your worst enemy if you post on social media after a car accident. Attorneys know that people tend to use social media as a diary, sharing thoughts and feelings they likely wouldn’t say out loud or in person.
And in a personal injury case, that means everything.
Burden of Proof
Most people are familiar with the basic concepts of guilt and the burden of proof in criminal cases. In law, the burden of proof means that certain thresholds must be met before the defendant can be found guilty or liable. In simple terms, it refers to how convinced the judge and jury must be. In a car accident case, this is a question of who is at fault.
In criminal law, the defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In personal injury cases (like car accidents), the burden of proof is much lower. You don’t need to prove that your version of events is true, but rather that it’s “more likely than not” true, i.e. at least 51% true. But the higher above 51% you are, the more likely that the jury will decide in your favor.
Alternately, the defense does not need to convince a jury that their story is the most accurate, but rather to cast enough doubt on the plaintiff’s version of events that the jury no longer believes the plaintiff’s version is “more likely than not” true.
This is where social media comes in.
What Can Be Used Against You
The defense (and your insurance company) looks through your social media for anything that might contradict your claim. The problem for car accident victims is that a post “contradicting your claim” is largely a matter of how you tell the story. Posts or photos that have nothing to do with your accident can be used against you.
Almost anything you post or share online can be used against you since it can easily be taken out of context.
Let’s say, for example, your claim rests on injuries sustained in the accident. A photo of you working out or going out to dinner can be used against you since the defense can make the case that your injuries must be minor if you were well enough to go out with friends or exercise.
Common pieces of social media evidence include:
- Photos of the accident scene
- Comments you make about the accident, including status updates
- Comments made by witnesses about the accident
- Comments made by friends about the accident
- Comments and photos regarding your medical condition
- Private messages (these can be subpoenaed)
- Location check-ins
- Tagged photos of you
- Posts you are tagged in
- Profile pictures
In short? Assume that nothing is private, and everything is fair game.
But the Account is Set to Private…Right?
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wait, my account has strict privacy settings. I’ll be safe, right?”
Not so fast.
Words like “privacy” and “delete” are all relative terms when it comes to the Internet. More to the point, lawyers and insurance companies have extensive resources they can use in discovery to find information about your social media, even without looking at information locked behind privacy settings.
As for everything that is concealed behind privacy settings, that protection is only good until the defense subpoenas your social media activity. In plain English, you have to assume that anything you post online can be found, read, and used against you.
If You Post Something You’re Worried About
Let’s say you post something that you later worry could be used against you. The first thing to remember is that private account settings will not keep your post safe. Insurance companies and dedicated defense lawyers have vast resources to hunt down posts that you think are private, and they can always subpoena your social media account.
Second, you CANNOT delete any post once your case is open. Your lawyer cannot tell you to take down any posts, either. This would be considered destruction of evidence and you would face serious legal repercussions.
If you accidentally post something that you think could be used against you, or if you’re worried about an old post for any reason, talk to your attorney right away. They can figure out a strategy to get in front of the problem.
But whatever you do, do not take action on your own. Let your attorney help you navigate the issue so you don’t unwittingly make it worse.
Let Us Guide You Through Your Accident Case
Navigating social media after a car accident can be tricky even if you don’t post anything new. Unfortunately, defense attorneys and insurance companies can be quite creative in finding ways to weaken your case. And when you’re trying to get back on your feet, it’s hard enough just to keep your head above water.
That’s why you need an expert car accident lawyer to fight for you.
At Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, we don’t take cases. We take clients. We are your advocate, and we fight to represent you with the same diligence, care, and dedication we would offer to our loved ones because we know that when you’re struggling, you wouldn’t want anything less. The results speak for themselves—we’ve won millions for accident victims like you for the last 25 years.
If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, schedule your free consultation today.