Maintaining a respectable presence online is important for many reasons, from college applications to professional networking. However, there’s one aspect of the online persona people seldom consider: How a court of law might perceive one’s online presence after a car accident or other incident that leads to legal action.
As we discussed in a recent post, social media can negatively impact a personal injury case, even when there’s been legitimate harm or damage.
Facebook’s Long Shelf Life
Content posted via social media has a long shelf life, and there’s no limit to how far back an insurance investigator or attorney will go to make his or her case.
In a 2013 Colorado lawsuit, a young driver involved in a drunk driving accident was given a maximum sentence in criminal court after Facebook postings showed the defendant partying after the crash.
In 2004, a 19-year-old woman spent a year in jail after she drove drunk and lost control of her car, killing a friend in the backseat. In 2009, she was back in court for a minor parole violation. The judge took note of the woman’s Facebook posts, which revealed her smiling, drinking with friends, and traveling after her friend’s death.
“Where is the remorse?” the judge asked before he sentenced the woman to three more years in jail.
Don’t Get Trapped by Social Media
After a traffic accident, insurance adjusters look for evidence that may be used to shift fault from their clients and limit what they pay to injury victims. Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the first places they look is social media.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and similar social networks are not safe havens for the self-expression of accidents victims. If you’re injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver, it’s important to understand that social media posts can adversely affect your ability to recover maximum compensation for your injuries.
This is why personal injury attorneys recommend that injury victims limit social media use after an accident while they pursue a claim. Specifically, injury victims should not make comments regarding fault for the wreck or post photos of themselves that may be used to refute their case. If, for example, you suffered neck and back injuries in an accident, you don’t want to share pictures that show you engaged in physical activities.
We also advise that you don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t personally know while your case is in progress. Insurance investigators and other lawyers may use this method to gain greater access to your social media accounts.
Citing auto insurance estimates, a Forbes magazine article states there are approximately 10 million accidents every year from parking-lot fender-benders to multi-car crashes and that the average driver will file a collision-related claim approximately once every 18 years. As social media becomes even more pervasive, it will continue to play a greater role in personal injury cases related to car accidents.
If you were hurt in a car accident caused by a careless driver in the greater Denver area, contact the experienced attorneys at the Frickey Law Firm before you turn to social media. We’re here to help you understand your legal options and fight for the financial security you need.