There are about 1.6 billion Facebook users, so there’s a good chance you’re one of them. Some of us created accounts but never use them, others are on Facebook all day long. If you use Facebook, leave out posts about the accident, how it’s impacted your life, photos, and descriptions of what you’re doing that could contradict your claim or lawsuit. What’s on Facebook could be used against you to deny your claim or reduce your settlement.
Facebook is fair game for insurance companies and lawyers defending your claim. Anyone investigating you and the accident will probably look through your social media posts. It’s cheaper than hiring a private investigator to take pictures of your activities because you’re posting them on Facebook for free.
This goes beyond claiming a severe injury but posting photos of you hiking, dancing, or repairing your car. If your claim includes how the accident has led to depression, anxiety, and generally caused your quality of life to deteriorate, writing about your great mood, how well recovery is going, or how happy you are about something will contradict your claim.
Insurance Companies and Their Attorneys Will Seek Evidence About You and Your Claim
Parties in a lawsuit have a fair amount of discretion to gather evidence, though there are limits, and standards for what can be used at a trial are higher. In a New York case involving a woman injured in a horse-riding accident, the defendant sought photos and information from the plaintiff’s Facebook account. She refused, the trial court ordered that some pictures and information be released, she appealed, and the State of New York Court of Appeals mostly agreed with the lower court.
The appeals court wrote that under state law, a party has broad powers to seek evidence, it must show its request is relevant, material, and necessary. Facebook allows users to create privacy settings so material could be seen by anyone or just the person’s “friends.” The court stated Facebook contents can be used by defendants when there’s information that contradicts or conflicts with plaintiff’s alleged restrictions, disabilities, losses, and other claims, no matter what privacy setting is used.
The critical issue is relevance. The court stated:
- Courts should consider the event leading to the lawsuit, the alleged injuries, and any other information specific to the case to decide if relevant material is likely to be found on Facebook
- A court should balance the usefulness of the information against the plaintiff’s privacy and other concerns by creating an order tailored to the controversy while avoiding a disclosure of irrelevant materials
- Information and photos should be limited to a relevant time frame
- A court order could protect sensitive or embarrassing materials of little relevance
Protect Yourself by Remaining Silent
In criminal law, before you’re arrested, you should be read your Miranda rights. Part of what an officer should tell you is, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
You should think about this warning when it comes to discussing your accident, injuries, and the harm you suffered, whether that’s talking to a co-worker or posting on social media.
- You have a right to remain silent on social media. No one is forcing you to post on Facebook
- Anything you post on social media or say publicly could be used against you in a court of law
Anderson Injury Lawyers Can Help You, But You Need to Help Yourself Too
We’ve helped thousands of clients get the compensation they deserve for injuries they suffered in accidents. But we can’t do everything ourselves. Our clients need to help themselves improve the chances of their case’s success. One thing they can do is avoid talking or posting on social media about the accident, their health, and their state of mind.
If you suffered harm because of another party’s negligence, contact Anderson Injury Lawyers today at 817-294-1900 or fill out our online form. We offer individualized attention, over 25 years of experience, and everything you need to get what you deserve.