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Can Social Media Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

Social media has many benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Increased connectivity
  • Wide-spread information and education
  • Community building
  • Self-expression
  • Personal branding

Even with all these benefits, social media use can negatively impact your personal injury case. Examples of how social media can hurt your case:

  • Behavioral tendencies, such as consuming alcohol, photos posted while driving, high-risk activity that could frame a view that you played a role in the accident
  • Comments can be interpreted as admissions of fault. If you post or comment that you “never saw them coming” or “never had a chance to stop,” the insurance company attorneys can argue that you played a role in the accident. What you post or say can also give them clues concerning what to investigate (like your speed).
  • Some information is no longer confidential. Sharing information about your mental health, injuries, or progress gives the opposing counsel access to this information. If you share that you are better or that you enjoyed a night of dancing, the opposing counsel may claim you are exaggerating the severity of your injuries.

Best Practices for Social Media Usage During Personal Injury Claims

If possible, you should consider staying off social media until your case is resolved. However, if you do use social media, you should adhere to the following guidelines.

  • Avoid posting details or photos of the accident photos. To avoid contradicting your statement and/or claims, you should not post any accident information.
  • Avoid posting about outings or activities you do. The opposing party may try to use these posts to discredit your claims about your injuries and their severity. Posting in this case also means using the location tag or check-in feature that shows your friends where you are.
  • Do not delete photos or posts. If you delete content, it can be retrieved. This may also look like you were trying to conceal evidence or information. Instead of deleting anything, share any concerning posts with your attorney.
  • Do not post about the case or proceedings. Whether you want to post something to celebrate or vent, you should simply avoid sharing information about the negotiations or proceedings.
  • Keep information about your progress private. While you may want to share that you are having a better day or have more mobility, the opposing counsel can twist the post, using it to claim you are not in as much pain as you say. While you should avoid posting progress updates online, you can talk with trusted friends and family.
  • Do not accept friend requests from strangers. If your page is private, this may be the opposing counsel trying to gain access to your account. Until the case conclusion, try to accept only requests from people you know or accounts you recognize.

Private vs. Public Profile Settings

Even if your social media account is private, your social media account can still be used to hurt your case. Having a private account does not mean that your posts will remain undiscoverable, because:

  • People may screenshot and share your posts.
  • The opposing counsel may send you a friend request using a fake profile.
  • The opposing counsel may ask the court to force you to share your comments or posts.
  • Your family and friends may share information online about your recovery, case, injuries, or outings.

Ohio Comparative Negligence Laws

In Ohio, if you are deemed to be over 50% at fault, you cannot pursue compensation. If you are partially at fault, your damages will also be reduced based on your percentage of fault (see Ohio Revised Code § 2315.33 and § 2315.34). For example, if you were texting and driving, you may be held partially liable for a car accident, and you will only receive a portion of your calculated damages. If you are 25% at fault and your damages total $10,000, you will only receive $7,500. Depending on what you share online, your posts may impact the court’s determination concerning your percentage of fault in the accident.

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today

At Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC, our attorneys are equipped to help clients avoid social media mistakes in the fight to receive fair compensation for their injuries. Our clients receive individualized legal counsel, and our firm handles a range of personal injury cases, including:

  • Animal attacks/dog bites
  • Car, motorcycle, and/or truck accidents
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Social security disability
  • Wrongful Death

If you or a loved one suffered a personal injury, we understand that you are going through an extremely difficult time (mentally, emotionally, and financially). Our attorneys have helped many clients successfully obtain compensation for their pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages. To schedule your free, initial case consultation, contact our firm online or at (937) 403-9033.