hands holding smart phone taking picture of a scene of an accident

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Claims

June 27, 2024

In today's digital age, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. We share our thoughts, experiences, and activities with friends, family, and sometimes even the wider public. However, when it comes to personal injury claims, what you post on social media can have serious implications for your case. Let's dive into how your online presence can impact your claim and what you need to be aware of to protect your interests.

The Impact of Social Media on Personal Injury Claims

Evidence in Court

It might surprise you to learn that social media posts can be used as evidence in court, but insurance companies and lawyers are increasingly turning to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to gather information about claimants. If you're involved in a car accident claim, it's incredibly important to be mindful of what you're sharing online, as it could potentially be used against you.

Substantiating Claims

Your social media activity can either support or contradict your injury claims; for instance, if you're claiming severe back pain but posting videos of yourself dancing at a party, it could seriously undermine your case. Even innocent posts about everyday activities might be misconstrued to suggest that your injuries aren't as severe as you've stated.

Impeaching Credibility

Lawyers may also use your social media posts to question your credibility. If there are inconsistencies between your online persona and the claims you're making in your case, it could cast doubt on your testimony. This is why it's essential to be truthful and consistent in both your legal statements and your social media presence.

Contextualising Claims

Sometimes, social media posts can provide context that might not be immediately apparent in your claim. For example, if you're claiming emotional distress but your social media feed is full of happy, carefree posts, it could be used to argue that your suffering isn't as significant as you've stated. It's important to remember that even posts unrelated to your accident could be relevant to your case.

Discovery of Relevant Parties

Social media can also be used to identify witnesses or other parties involved in your accident. If you've tagged friends who were with you at the time of the incident, or if you've discussed the event online, this information could be used in the investigation of your claim. This is simply how accident management firms operate, so it's best to be cautious about what you share.

Risks of Sharing on Social Media

Misinterpretation of Posts

One of the biggest risks of social media is the potential for misinterpretation. A lighthearted joke or a sarcastic comment could be taken out of context and used to portray you in a negative light. Even if you're trying to put on a brave face for your friends and family, expressing positivity online could be misconstrued as evidence that you're not suffering as much as you claim.

Violation of Privacy

While you might think your social media accounts are private, it's important to remember that nothing on the internet is truly secure. Even with strict privacy settings, there's always a chance that your posts could be accessed by the opposing party in your claim. They might use legal means to obtain this information, or they could simply find a way to view your profile through mutual connections.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Posting About the Accident

It might be tempting to share details about your accident online, especially if you're seeking support from friends and family. However, it's best to refrain from posting anything about the incident or your injuries on social media. Even seemingly innocent posts could be used out of context to undermine your claim.

Overlooking Privacy Settings

While it's not foolproof, setting your social media accounts to private can provide an additional layer of protection. However, many people overlook this simple step or don't fully understand how to use privacy settings effectively. Take the time to review and adjust your settings on all platforms to limit who can see your posts.

Deleting or Altering Content

If you've already posted something that you think might hurt your claim, it might be tempting to delete it. However, this could be seen as tampering with evidence. Instead, consult with your lawyer about the best course of action. They might advise you to simply stop posting rather than trying to erase your digital footprint.

Engaging in Inconsistent Behaviour

Be mindful of the activities you engage in and share on social media. If you're claiming a debilitating injury but then post photos of yourself participating in sports or other physical activities, it could seriously damage your credibility. 

Discussing Legal Matters Publicly

Finally, avoid the temptation to discuss any aspect of your legal proceedings online. This includes venting frustrations about the process, sharing updates on your case, or seeking advice from your social network, as any of these actions could potentially be used against you or complicate your claim.

Protecting Your Personal Injury Claim

To safeguard your personal injury claim, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Temporarily deactivate your social media accounts during the claims process
  2. If you choose to keep your accounts active, set them to the highest privacy settings
  3. Refrain from accepting new friend requests or followers during your case
  4. Avoid posting about your accident, injuries, or any related legal proceedings
  5. Ask friends and family not to tag you in posts or share information about your situation
  6. Be mindful of the content you like, share, or comment on, as these actions can also be visible
  7. Consider the potential impact of every post, photo, or interaction before sharing online
  8. Follow your lawyer's advice regarding social media use throughout your claim

Remember, the best approach is often to minimise your social media presence entirely while your claim is ongoing. In being cautious and thoughtful about your online activity, you can help protect the integrity of your personal injury claim and improve your chances of a favourable outcome.