With the advent of smartphones and social media apps, many Southern Californians have become extremely comfortable sharing pictures, video recordings and other content about themselves on their social media accounts. Applications like Facebook and Instagram installed on a smartphone allow users to instantly take photos and videos of themselves, upload the content to their Facebook walls and social media accounts, tag other individuals included in the content, and indicate the exact location where the photo or video was taken. While the majority of this is innocent and fun, the truth of the matter remains that if a person has an ongoing personal injury case pending in court, these pictures and videos can be used against you in a court of law.
When your social media activity is used against you
If you claim that you have been injured in an accident, and that injury was caused by a negligent person or business, that person or business will probably do everything in its power to avoid responsibility. As the plaintiff, you will generally provide evidence of any harm done and the damages you seek. This proof can come in the form of medical records of injury, experts testifying, witness testimony, and other photographic and documentary evidence.
On the other side, the defendant and his lawyer are doing the exact same thing, and providing refuting evidence to prove that they are not to blame for your damages and injury. Defense lawyers normally hire investigators to assist them with their defense, and these individuals are used to find photos, witnesses and any proof that the plaintiff may be lying in regards to their claims.
Private investigators and social media
What may come as a surprise to most people is that once you post your pictures to a social media site, the defendant may use these photos against you in a court of law. Even though every picture may not be admissible in court, there is a good chance that some pictures and content will be admissible by the defense to refute your claims. Also any person that is photographed in the picture can be a potential witness.
Not long ago, a former general manager of a Burbank Home Depot sued the company for gender discrimination, claiming that she’d been wrongly fired and experienced anguish, anxiety, and isolation from friends as a result. Home Depot tried to admit a multitude of posts from the employee’s Facebook wall and other social media accounts, which tended to show that she was happy, enjoying life, and not isolated from her friends as she had claimed. The case was settled out of court.
For anyone with a pending personal injury case, speak with your accident attorney about how you should approach your social media use. The following tips regarding social media use may also be helpful.
- Change your privacy settings to restrict access of your content to only the closest of friends.
- Do not post any pictures or content of your health, well-being or lifestyle if that is the central issue in the ongoing case.
- Make sure you are actually “Friends” with the people who are following you.
For more information on how to address social media during your case, contact auto accident attorney Barry P. Goldberg today.