Let’s say you were involved in a traffic crash. If you use Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites, or if you post to a blog, you may want to share all of the details. In text and images, you may tell friends, family and followers what happened and chronicle your recovery in the weeks after.
For many people, this would be a natural thing to do. According to January 2014 data from the Pew Research Internet Project, 89% of people ages 18-29, 82% between the ages of 30-49, and 65% between the ages of 50-64 use social networking sites. Even among seniors (65+), close to 50% use social media.
However, is it a good idea to talk about your accident on social media?
Consider the possible risks that could undermine your case
You post a photo of yourself a day or a week after the accident that makes it look like your injuries aren’t as bad as you said they were. Worse yet, the images may show (or give the impression) that you’ve outright lied; maybe they depict you doing some work or enjoying a leisure activity that wouldn’t really be possible for someone injured a certain way.
Let’s say you share a detailed account of your accident. But wait – what you write differs in some key details from what you shared with police or insurance companies or from the evidence you presented in court.
Another possibility is that you write something callous. You make a joke – maybe only to deal with the stress of the situation – and it gets construed as unfeeling.
Also, consider what other people might write in response to your posts. One of your friends who spent time with you the other day might make an offhand remark that your vehicle runs pretty well, even after you told the insurance company that it’s out of commission from serious damage.
The bottom line is you have to be cautious about what you share on social media. Don’t trust privacy settings or think that if you delete a post it will vanish into the ether; nothing truly disappears from the Internet. Deleted content is recoverable or may have already been preserved in the form of a screen capture, for example. Deleting a post will be construed as an attempt to destroy evidence, an action you’ll be hard-pressed to explain to a jury; you’ll likely face serious penalties as your case completely crumbles.
Always keep in mind that what you post could undermine your case. In general, limit what you share and stick to generalities rather than going into a lot of specific details. If you’ve taken photos or written notes about the accident for your case, keep them to yourself as evidence rather than as material for public posts. Furthermore, talk to people you’re close to and trust about being cautious in what they post about the crash.
Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your accident and also to get advice on how to discuss it with other people. Also, be sure to tell your attorney if someone else has been posting about the accident, including material that could be used to undermine you.
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