Social media can be an enticing place to share your thoughts. We should all be wary, however, of what we post there. Anything you post to social media can be used against you in court. Worse yet, once you post to social media, you might not be able to take it down without facing penalties.
Deleting posts after a lawsuit is foreseeable (meaning even before it is filed) may be considered unlawful destruction of evidence. This could lead to the lawsuit being dismissed, in extreme cases. More commonly, the jury could be instructed that the post taken down was against your case. People who destroy or delete evidence (even innocently) may be fined by the court. That’s probably reason enough not to post to social media. Just in case, here are three of the most likely ways social media can ruin your personal injury claim.
How Social Media Could Ruin Your PI Claim
- Evidence you are not physically injured – Let’s say that you have a claim after a car accident. Walking for a prolonged period of time is very painful on your back. One of the best ways to defend against this claim is to find photos online of you (apparently) uninjured.
Say you post a picture of yourself hiking (where the picture was taken before the accident). The other side might see this and assume the picture was recent. Then there will be time spent dealing with when the picture was taken and proving it was an old picture. It doesn’t matter if you posted a “pretend photo” of you doing something as a joke for your friends. The picture can easily be misconstrued and used as evidence against your claim.
- Evidence you are not emotionally distressed – As with physical injury, pictures and comments on social media can be used to prove you were not emotionally distressed. This can be as little as a comment you posted in jest, as it could be argued that someone who is emotionally distressed would not be making jokes on social media.
- Most of it is public record – People can find practically anything that you post on the internet through investigation or discovery. This means it can become evidence in the case. Even putting your Facebook account on the highest privacy setting won’t prevent the other side from seeing the information. In many courts, if the defense can argue there is a likelihood of finding relevant evidence on your private account, the court can order you to produce that.
The bottom line is that anything you put on social media can and will be used against you—even if it’s just a joke or a pretend picture. In order to stay completely protected against social media being used against you, don’t post anything at all.
Galloway Jefcoat, LPP is a Louisiana personal injury law firm that fights for victims of car crashes, workplace accidents, and other forms of negligence or injury. We are committed to serving you and your family.