Don’t let your Facebook profile ruin your personal injury case

In this era of smartphones and social media, our connectedness to each other is virtually constant. We’ve become accustomed to broadcasting our entire lives online–from landmark events, like our marriage proposal or our baby’s first steps–to everyday trivialities, like our new pair of shoes or Sunday brunch.

When you’re the victim of an accident, you may be laid up in bed with little to do. Boredom, loneliness and despondency may set in, and you may be more tempted than usual to turn to the internet for support. However, using social media or online chat forums to vent your frustration can be a costly mistake for your personal injury case.

When you file a personal injury lawsuit against someone, the defendant’s lawyer and insurance company will do whatever they can to discredit the severity of your claim. Publicizing anything about yourself online following an accident can be detrimental to your case in unexpected ways.

Here are some basic rules of thumb:

Your posts

Don’t post any information online about your accident, your recuperation or your lawsuit. Assume that anything you post online can be retrieved–even after you delete it. In addition, don’t post any videos or photos of yourself. If you appear more active–or even just happier–than your lawsuit claims, this evidence could be used against you.

Your social network

Following an accident, family and friends may be concerned for your wellbeing–or angry at the person who caused you pain. They may want to unleash their grievances online. But this can also come back to haunt you. Talk to your loved ones and ask them to keep such information off the internet until your case has concluded.

Your privacy

It’s a good idea to update your social media privacy settings. Disable the “tagging” function, so that friends can’t tag you in their posts. Also disable the “check in” function, so that no one else can check you in to a location or event. (It can look fishy if you’re seen checking in to a ski resort if you claim to have a serious back injury.) Finally, be extremely leery of any new contact requests you receive on social media. If you don’t recognize the person, don’t accept their request. Insurance companies may set up fake profiles in order to access your private information.

It’s best to avoid social media completely following an accident–and only discuss your case with your lawyer. However, following the above guidelines can help preserve the integrity of your case.

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