Q&A with Evan Kline: What you should and shouldn’t do on social media following an accident
January 2, 2019
We live in a world where social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are used to talk about your day, upload photos, share an event or to stay connected with family and friends. With roughly 7 in 10 Americans using social media, it is important to be cautious about what you post following an accident.
Remember that anything you post on a social media platform might need revealed in your case, and could be used against you in court.
Personal injury attorney Evan Kline answers some common questions on how social media can affect your claim.
I use my social media accounts to update family members on my life. How should I tell them about the accident?
Everything you say about the accident or your physical well-being on Facebook or any other social media account, could be used in court. Once you post on your social media accounts, you are creating a written record that is visible and permanent. Even if you send a seemingly private message, a judge might force you to turn over your username and password if the public parts of your social media account contain information relevant to your health or to your case. Judges often decide that if the public parts of your social media account contain relevant information, the private parts of your account might contain such information as well.
When you talk with your lawyer about your case, you have complete confidentiality. This information only stays confidential if you tell only your lawyer. If you share information on social media about your accident, that information is now public. This can include details of the accident, your injuries, recovery and your mental or emotional state.
It is better to not share this information online if you want the details to remain confidential and not used in court.
What shouldn’t I post on social media?
The best practice is to deactivate your social media accounts until after the case. However, I realize that is often impractical in today’s world. So if you don’t want to deactivate your accounts, take the following recommendations into consideration:
- Photos and videos: Avoid posting any photos or videos. If you accidentally post a photo and then delete it, it could actually be used against you in court. Similarly, if someone else posts photos of you, if you delete them, it could actually be used against you in court.
- Comments: Avoid posting any information relevant to the accident. Be cautious of not only what you post on your news feed, but also what you write on others’ posts. In fact, it’s likely that more people may see your comments if they are on a friends’ page or group page.
- Private messages: You might think sending a private social media message is a better way to communicate with family and friends. While it is out of the public’s eye, at any point a friend or family member could screenshot and share what is written. Additionally, if the public-facing part of your account suggests you use social media to talk about your case, your health or your physical activities, a court might force you to turn over your usernames and passwords. The opposing party could then examine the private sections of your accounts.
I have all of my accounts set on a private setting. So that means insurance companies and defense lawyers cannot see my posts, correct?
No, you should not assume privacy settings will protect you. As mentioned with Facebook messages, at any point someone may screenshot and share what is posted. In addition, the court may force you to turn over usernames and passwords if the public-facing part of your accounts give the court a reason to suspect the private sections of your accounts contain relevant information. In addition to private messages, the opposing party could gain access to any information relevant to the case, including but not limited to: photos, videos, timeline conversations and location check-ins.
What can I do to keep friends and family from tagging me in posts?
After an accident, friends and family may try to show support for you and tag you in a post about it. Unfortunately, these can be used against you as well. It doesn’t matter that you had nothing to do with the post. It is easy for a defense to search your name, and even if they do not have access to your social media page, they can often still see if you were tagged in a post or photo.
The best practice, if you did not deactivate your social media channels, is to change your privacy settings so that no one may tag you in a post or photo. Then offline, advise family and friends to not post about the accident.
Remember if you choose to delete the post, it could be used against you in court.
If you have been injured in an accident or want to learn more on what to do after an accident, contact our attorneys at KBG Injury Law. We will help you get the Results You Deserve©.