Social Media and Personal Injury Cases

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Social media and personal injury cases - Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C.
Photo credit: Rosaura Ochoa (Flikr)

Technology has been a bit like Pandora’s box. It has brought us some really great things, such as making it easier than ever to stay in touch with people via cell phones, email, and social media. However, one of the negative things that has sprung from that box is a general decrease in privacy. If you are currently engaged in a personal injury suit, this decrease in privacy is of particular concern for you. You will want to take certain steps to monitor your actions on social media in order to protect your case. Here are some tips:

1.) Avoid posting photos and videos. Photos and videos are often inaccurate because they tend to put your best foot forward. For example, if someone is about to snap a picture of you, you’re probably going to smile—whether you’re in a lot of pain or not. However, that smiling, happy person may come back to bite you. An insurance company or lawyer may use it as evidence that you aren’t in quite as much pain as you claim.

2.) Be as accurate as possible with your posts. Watch how you describe all of your activities. For instance, if your child had a skating party, don’t post something like, “Thanks for coming out to the skating rink on Saturday. We had so much fun!” Based on that, it sounds like you did some skating. Instead, be specific.

3.) Do not post about your legal matters. Avoid all commentary on your injuries, the pending case, conversations with your attorney, and the like.

4.) Monitor your social media contacts. Companies often hire someone to monitor their social media pages. That person will watch out for negative comments or customer service concerns. You need to do that for your social media pages. Monitor the comments your contacts make. Watch out for any photos that you may be tagged or mentioned in.

5.) Check your privacy settings. By default, some social media platforms expose your posts to everyone. Make sure you’ve adjusted your settings so that only accepted contacts can see what you’re sharing. If a social media platform doesn’t allow you to make these adjustments, avoid it.

Social media is a great way to stay in touch with people; however, when you are in the middle of a personal injury suit, it may be wisest to simply take a hiatus until your legal matters are resolved. While it may be difficult to avoid those social connections, especially if your injury has left you confined, the potential consequences can be very serious. Any move you make could be used against you. If you are not willing to avoid social media, it is very important that you carefully evaluate each and every word you share. Think of your posts like an insurance investigator or an attorney on the opposing side would.

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By George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile