Could Facebook Destroy Your Personal Injury Case?

Posted on: 4 April 2018

Facebook, or social media in general, is an undeniable part of the American existence these days. It's become common for people of all ages to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends (and people they've never even met in person) through Facebook via daily posts about everything from the mundane details of their lives to major events.

Unfortunately, if you've been injured in an accident and find yourself having to sue, it's better if you close your account for a while and communicate in other ways. These are the dangers Facebook and other social sites pose to litigants.

Everything You Post Is Public and Permanent

You may have figured out the privacy settings on Facebook or other sites, but private isn't really what it sounds like when it comes to the internet. Everything you post is potentially available through discovery--the formal investigative process of a personal injury lawsuit--via a court order. 

If a court order does happen, you can't go on a purge and delete all the photos or comments that you think might be a cause for concern. That's called spoliation of evidence and can end up with a presumption that the other side would have found something if they'd looked sooner.

A Single Post Can Destroy Your Claim of Emotional Distress

Emotional distress is a significant part of many personal injury claims and for good reason. Getting hurt and having your life interrupted takes a toll on the human spirit.

Unfortunately, all it takes is one post of you smiling and looking happy at your cousin's wedding, and your claim that you were so depressed you barely got out of bed goes out the window. It doesn't matter if your smile was forced and you went home and slept for three days after the event because that's not what the photo shows.

Posts Can Also Be Used to Damage Your Claims of Physical Injuries

It isn't unusual for people to post messages on Facebook and elsewhere online that present a rosy picture of their lives. It's easy to hide your chronic pain behind a few exclamation points and smiley emoticons. However, an insurance company can use chipper posts and positive affirmations--even simple statements like "Life is good!" in response to a friend's casual question--against you in court. 

All those things can be taken out of context and used to prove that your pain isn't severe and your injuries aren't that disabling. However faulty the belief is, people in pain are expected to express their misery, not try to hide it.

So, if you're trying to get through a personal injury lawsuit as easily as possible, cut yourself a break: cut out social media for the duration and talk to a personal injury attorney, like Radano & Lide, who can help you with your case.