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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

Florida personal injury lawyers



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    The Role of Social Media in Personal Injury Claims: Risks and Benefits

    The rise of social media has profoundly reshaped our daily lives and interactions. It serves as a dynamic platform where we can remain connected with family and friends, regardless of geographic distances, and foster new relationships with people across the globe who share our interests. From sharing life’s significant milestones to exchanging thoughts on everyday experiences, social media has transformed how we communicate and engage with the world.

    However, as social media permeates every aspect of our lives, it has also begun to leave its mark on legal proceedings, particularly in personal injury claims. Posts, pictures, and comments on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat can potentially help or hurt a personal injury case, depending on the content and context.

    Risks Associated with Social Media in Personal Injury Claims

    One of the most significant risks with social media in personal injury claims is that it can provide insurance companies and defense attorneys with evidence to contradict your claims. For instance, if you’re pursuing a personal injury case claiming severe back injuries but then post pictures of yourself playing a rigorous game of beach volleyball or moving furniture, that could be used to undermine your claim.

    Even seemingly innocent posts can be taken out of context and used against you. A simple picture of you smiling at a birthday party can be used to argue that you’re not as emotionally distressed as you claim to be. Comments about the accident or your injuries can also be misconstrued or used to suggest that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.

    Though you may want to share your experiences, providing detailed accounts of the accident or your injuries on social media can give the opposing side additional material. This could include revealing information that may be misconstrued or taken out of context.

    In addition, social media platforms often provide time stamps on posts, which can be used to track your activities. If these contradict your claims, it could undermine your case.

    Privacy settings may not fully protect you, either. Courts have often allowed discovery requests to include social media content, regardless of your privacy settings. It’s also possible that mutual friends could share your posts with the opposing party.

    Benefits of Social Media in Personal Injury Claims

    Social media can pose risks but also benefit a personal injury case. For instance, posts made by the defendant can potentially serve as evidence to support your claim. If the defendant posts about the incident or acknowledges their fault somehow, this could benefit your case.

    Photos or videos from the incident scene, posted by witnesses, can also provide valuable evidence. For example, dash cams have become increasingly popular, meaning other drivers may post footage of an auto accident to their social media accounts and local community groups.

    In some cases, your own social media posts can also help paint a picture of your life before the accident, providing a stark contrast to your life after the incident. This is often helpful in cases where emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life is a significant component of the claimed damages.

    In certain situations, the defendant’s social media activity can be monitored to check for any behaviors or statements that could strengthen your case. For example, if a defendant claimed severe injury, but their social media shows them participating in physical activities or events, this information could be used to challenge their claim. However, using such information responsibly and ethically is essential, always adhering to the court’s rules.

    Guidelines for Social Media Use During a Personal Injury Claim

    Given the potential risks and benefits, here are some guidelines for using social media during a personal injury claim:

    1. Think Before You Post: Consider how a post might look to the opposing party and how it could be used against you. When in doubt, it’s better not to post.
    2. Be Aware of Friends’ Posts: Even if you’re being careful, your friends might post content that involves you. Politely ask them to avoid posting about you until the conclusion of your case.
    3. Don’t Discuss Your Case: Avoid discussing any aspect of your case on social media. Even seemingly harmless comments can be used against you.
    4. Consider a Social Media Break: If possible, consider taking a break from social media while your personal injury case is ongoing.
    5. Consult Your Attorney: When in doubt, talk to your attorney. Attorneys can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation.

    While social media can potentially benefit your case, it’s often more likely to present risks. Being aware of these risks and taking steps to mitigate them can help protect your personal injury claim. As always, it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney who can guide you through the complexities of your case, including how to handle social media.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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