Since there are around 6 million car accidents in the US annually, the protocol for what you should do post-crash is pretty well established. Don’t admit fault, don’t exaggerate your injuries, and don’t post on social media: these are all great tips to follow.
But why is posting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram a bad choice? How can it specifically be detrimental to your case? Read on to take a look at what posting on social media looks like from a legal perspective.
If You Post on Social Media, It’s Online Forever
If you’re someone who posts often on social media platforms, you’re likely familiar with both the “edit” and “delete” buttons. However, in legal situations, these buttons aren’t going to eliminate evidence once it’s been posted. Anything that you put online publicly can still be accessed by authorities or trained experts.
This is because there’s a post history that, while inaccessible to others, can be obtained with a proper permit. This makes it especially important not to post after an accident that resulted in injury to either party.
Your Feelings Could Be Blown Out of Proportion
Let’s say that you make a very generic post about having been in an auto accident. For example, you may type: “Just got in a car crash. It was really annoying. Why does this kind of thing always happen to me?”
To you and to the casual onlooker, this might seem like a fairly innocuous statement. Of course you would be irritated after being in a car wreck, but to lawyers and claims adjusters, your post actually looks a bit different.
First, to say that something is “annoying” implies or can be interpreted as if it was not a big deal, or might be more of an inconvenience to you. What’s more, it might suggest that you were not seriously injured.
Additionally, the question of “why does this always happen to me” could be interpreted by an attorney or claims adjuster as if you are a careless driver that has been in multiple car wrecks before. The better alternative is to keep your feelings off social media altogether, and call a friend or family member instead to rant about your experience.
Photos and Videos Can Be Used as Evidence
Beyond posting about your crash or your ongoing case, you can also harm your credibility by posting photos and videos of other things. For example, let’s say that you sustained minor injuries in a car crash and are seeking compensation for medical bills. This is completely reasonable, but it’s important that you don’t hurt your chances by giving people reason to believe that you could be exaggerating your injuries.
For example, if you post photos of your recent ski trip or a night out with friends, attorneys and claims adjusters might believe that you’re getting on with your life as usual. This will damage your credibility as they will not believe that your injuries were severe enough to warrant the compensation for which you are filing.
This is especially true if you are missing work due to an accident. If you call in to your job and report that you are injured as a result of the crash, it’s normal to expect that you can’t do much else either. So save yourself the strife of having to deal with photographic evidence of your post-crash activities and don’t post anything.
Talking About Anything Can Backfire
In general, it might be in your best interests to put all of your social media on private mode for a while. Talking about your crash can backfire, as can posting pictures, videos, and general written content about the things that you’re doing. These shouldn’t even be posted on a locked account.
However, posting literally anything online for public consumption can harm your case. Sounding happy or content in posts can be spun to make you look as though the crash had no impact on you, which reduces the risk of compensation. Vague posting about anything can lead to serious issues because others can skew it to look like it’s about the crash.
Additionally, anything that you say online can directly or indirectly contradict your testimony. If you and your attorney are trying to paint a picture of what happened and anything you post on social media even remotely contradicts it, you might undermine your own case.
You May Violate Attorney-Client Privilege
Attorney-client privilege is a rule that preserves confidentiality in communications between lawyers and their clients. You and your auto wreck attorney will have a lot to discuss after a crash, and it can be tempting to post about some of it on social media. But don’t do it, because you might violate this privilege. While not illegal (clients can waive the privilege if they want), you have nothing to gain and everything to lose from doing so.
If you share what your lawyer has discussed with you, you won’t be able to go back and state that what was previously disclosed should have been confidential. You will have forfeited your rights and therefore could undermine your case.
Begin Filing Your Case Today
There are many factors that go into determining fault and providing compensation in a car accident case. However, choosing to post on social media can be the one thing that damages or discredits an otherwise legitimate and good case.
Don’t let this happen to you! Schedule a case evaluation completely free of charge instead. We’re happy to talk with you about your legal claims with no obligations, so we look forward to you reaching out.