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    When Social Media Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Case

    Like it or not, social media is an integral part of our daily lives. However, when it comes to personal injury cases, your activity on social media platforms can have significant – often unintended – consequences.

    Social media posts, photos, blog entries, and comments can be scrutinized and potentially used against you in a personal injury claim. Here’s how that works.

    The Impact of Social Media on Personal Injury Cases

    Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter (now known as X), and LinkedIn are repositories of personal information and activities. It’s fun to share your latest adventures with your friends. However, in the context of a personal injury case, these platforms can provide insights into your life that defense attorneys and insurance companies may exploit.

    Examples of Damaging Social Media Activity

    1. Contradictory Posts: Claiming severe injury while posting pictures of you engaging in physical activities or enjoying resort or theme park attractions can undermine your credibility and the severity of your injuries.
    2. Timeline Discrepancies: Posts showing participation in activities or travel during times you claim to have been incapacitated can raise questions about the truthfulness of your claims. For example, if you claim you could not perform physically demanding work tasks for the first year after the accident but posted images of yourself rock climbing or jet skiing three months afterward, it could significantly undermine your credibility and weaken your case.
    3. Comments and Conversations: Casual remarks or conversations on social media can be taken out of context and used to challenge your claims of pain, suffering, or emotional distress. For example, a seemingly innocent comment about enjoying a day out or participating in a social event could be misconstrued as evidence that your injuries are not as severe as claimed. Similarly, a jovial conversation with friends online might be interpreted as a contradiction to your statements of experiencing significant emotional distress.

    Who’s Looking, Anyway?

    In a personal injury case, it’s not just your friends and family who might be viewing your social media profiles. Several parties could be scrutinizing your online presence:

    1. Defense Attorneys: Lawyers representing the defendant in your case will often conduct thorough investigations, which include looking at your social media profiles. They are on the lookout for any evidence that can be used to dispute your claims or diminish your credibility.
    2. Insurance Companies: Insurance adjusters and investigators are known for monitoring social media accounts of claimants. They use this information to assess the validity of injury claims and to find reasons to reduce or deny compensation.
    3. Private Investigators: In some cases, especially where significant sums are at stake, private investigators may be hired to gather evidence. This can include monitoring your social media activities to identify any injury claims inconsistencies.
    4. Expert Witnesses: In certain scenarios, expert witnesses may review your social media content to form opinions about your physical or emotional state post-accident, which can impact their testimony.

    Understanding who might be looking at your social media and the potential impact of your online activities is crucial in a personal injury case. It’s always wise to exercise caution and discretion with what you share online, especially when involved in legal proceedings. After all, posts on social media can be admissible in court and used as evidence against you.

    Do not assume that because you have a “privacy” setting or the posts are for friends only that they will not be seen by others.  You must always assume that anything posted online – even if for a limited time – is available to anyone at any time.  There are many technologies available to allow people to “scrape” the internet for anything ever posted.

    Best Practices for Social Media Use During a Personal Injury Case

    1. Limit Your Social Media Activity: Consider taking a break from social media or significantly limiting your posts while your case is ongoing.
    2. Review Your Privacy Settings: Ensure your accounts have the highest privacy settings. But remember that privacy settings are not foolproof.  In all likelihood someone can see what you have posted.  Understand that once you are in litigation, you may be forced to perform a complete download of all your posts.  You cannot ever delete something that you once posted or that could be considered destruction of evidence and could be fatal to your case.
    3. Avoid Discussing Your Case: Refrain from discussing any aspect of your case, condition, treatment or injury on social media.
    4. Be Mindful of Friends’ Posts: Be aware that posts from friends and family can also impact your case. Ask them to refrain from posting about you or tagging you in posts.
    5. Consult Your Attorney: Always consult with your personal injury attorney before posting anything that could be related to your case.

    Social media can be a double-edged sword in personal injury cases. While it offers a way to stay connected with friends and family, it can also provide evidence that might compromise your claim.

    In Florida, where personal injury laws are stringently applied, it’s crucial to be aware of how your online presence can affect your case. By being cautious and consulting with your attorney, you can help ensure that your social media use does not negatively impact your pursuit of fair compensation.

    Need Guidance?

    At Leighton Panoff Law, our experienced personal injury attorneys understand the complexities of personal injury law in Florida and can provide you with the guidance you need. We’ll help you understand the dos and don’ts of social media use during your case and work tirelessly to protect your interests. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.

    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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