People who are accustomed to using social media are often quick to share interesting experiences online. After an accident it can be tempting to tell friends about what happened, perhaps with pictures of smashed cars and other people who were involved. But social media posts can come back to haunt someone who ends up in litigation over an accident. Before rushing to Facebook or Twitter after an accident, there are some things to keep in mind.
Social media content can be evidence
Perhaps the most serious issue posed by social media in the context of a serious accident is that its content can be used as evidence in a trial or arbitration. An adverse party can request social media records as part of discovery, the fact-gathering phase of litigation. Here are a few ways this can matter:
- Content can be used to prove fault. Statements that could show fault will almost certainly become central pieces of evidence in a case. For example, a driver could post an admission that he or she was distracted (“Shouldn’t have been playing Pokemon and driving!”). A driver could also post an admission of having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol (“I shouldn’t have smoked that joint before driving! LOL!”). It will be difficult to overcome such damaging statements in court.
- Content can contradict oral testimony. Because social media posts are written, they can have an outsized importance when determining the truth of a statement. That is especially true when they are made shortly after the accident. Counteracting them with later testimony that tries to paint them as inaccurate or untrue can be difficult. “I was only kidding,” is a poor argument. Photos can be especially persuasive if they don’t line up with claims about the severity of an injury or other details.
- Content can prove the extent of an injury. Someone who claims to be bed-ridden with a serious injury but who posts photos of themselves dancing will almost certainly struggle to convince a court that the injuries are serious.
Social media can damage important relationships and your image
Social media can have other consequences beyond establishing the facts of a case.
- Waiving attorney-client privilege. Posts on social media can be considered public statements that are outside of the protected, confidential attorney-client relationship. Posting information about an attorney’s legal advice can waive the confidentiality of such advice, potentially making it part of court arguments when it otherwise wouldn’t be.
- Creating an impression of bad faith. If a driver’s insurance company believes that the driver is not being truthful about the details of an accident the insurer may deny coverage.
- Offending the fact-finders. Even if social media posts don’t raise specific legal concerns, they can make a person look bad. Posting crude or offensive remarks about the other people involved in the accident can make a judge or jury less sympathetic. Posting photos of someone who has been injured, especially children, is often seen as cruel, invasive, and inappropriate.
GGRM helps people injured in accidents in Las Vegas recover compensation
The best approach to handling social media after an accident is to simply stay off of it. At a minimum, talk to your accident attorney about what is and isn’t appropriate before making statements that could come back to haunt you. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area for more than 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident we are happy to review your case and discuss your legal options with you. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.