Social media has become a staple in today’s world. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t active on at least one, if not more, social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn– these are just a few of the popular social media platforms. A recent study shows that the percentage of the United States population with some form of social media account in 2017 is 81%. Social has taken off like wildfire over the years and for many good reasons. Social networking sites can provide a space for people to share their experiences, observations and opinions, post photos, stay in touch with family and friends, grow businesses and make money, and so much more. Social media has impacted society in many ways; some of which can be considered positive or negative depending on how you look at it. One potentially negative impact can be on your personal injury claim, if you share too much.

It has become almost second nature for many people in this age of technology to be programmed to share anything and everything via social media accounts. So what does this have to do with a personal injury case? Posting to your social media accounts can impact your personal injury claim in many ways. Social media can be someone’s dream outlet and escape– but a personal injury attorney’s worst nightmare.

The National Center for Health Statistics, a department within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has stated that around 31 million people are injured across our country each year, requiring medical treatment. Of these, some two million are severely injured enough to require some type of hospitalization. Additionally, 162,000 of these injuries are fatal. This is a lot of personal injury cases and claims. People who are pursuing a personal injury claim are usually doing so because they have suffered physical injuries, such as a broken leg, chronic pain, concussion, traumatic brain injury, soft tissue injury, etc. It may seem like the natural reaction to turn to social media to vent, get support and share your experience. The reality, however, is that sharing this information could have a negative impact on your case.

The skilled personal injury attorneys and staff at Schulze Law are equipped to handle the individual nature of each and every personal injury case we represent. We help inform and guide you around all aspects of your claim, including what not to do regarding social media.

We’ve put together some guidelines to assist you in deciding what should be shared and what information should stay private so that your social media posts do not harm your case. When in doubt, leave it out– and consult us at Schulze Law with any questions.

DO consider shutting down your social media accounts and stopping all of your social media activity. Say what?!? Yes, we understand that this practice could be challenging, but if possible, it’s in your best interest to play it safe rather than be sorry. If you do continue any social media involvement during the duration of your case, then definitely think about the following suggestions…

DO change all of your settings to PRIVATE. It’s typically a good idea to set your personal social media accounts to private. This is considered a safe practice in general, but it’s extremely important when you are going through a personal injury claim or court proceeding. Insurance companies or defense attorneys may try to uncover evidence or credibility that contradicts your claim. Only let your friends, family, and the people you actually know view your profile.

DON’T forget social media postings are public record. Even if your settings are private, don’t assume this information is not accessible. Anything that you post publicly on the internet, or that others post about you, could be used as evidence and potentially against you during a personal injury claim.

DON’T accept any new friend or follower requests or start any new social media accounts. A personal injury claim is not an optimal time to start expanding your social media networking and online presence. Focus on your privacy and protection.

DO NOT post any information or updates, or discuss your injuries, treatments, medical diagnosis or physical/mental condition. Basically, don’t post anything you would typically be inclined to share with your network. This type of information can easily be taken way out of context or perceived incorrectly and be used against you and backfire.

DO let your attorneys at Schulze Law know about your social media accounts. We can help guide and instruct you on how to manage your social media and online presence. Don’t hide anything from us.

DON’T take your opinions to, or frustrations out on, social media platforms. We get it. Personal injuries are painful, scary, annoying, tedious and miserable at times. Venting on social media may seem like a good idea in the short term to get a response or some support from your network. This is a bad idea. Please seek the attention in a very private manner off of the interwebs.

DO ask your friends and family to stay silent regarding your injury. It’s just as important for others as it is for you not to post photographs or status updates that involve you or anything to do with your claim.  Please advise your loved ones and network of people to keep your business off the public platforms. Other people’s pictures, tags or updates posted to social media could be used in your lawsuit and be harmful to your case. Caution your friends and family members to refrain from tagging you in any posts that may have a negative impact on your case.

DON’T post anything related to physical activity or travel during your case. This is pretty obvious but you’d be surprised how often people expose themselves. If you’re injured and in the process of proving this, it isn’t wise to broadcast physical activities and travel plans that would clearly not support your claim. Hurt your leg? That ski trip isn’t helping substantiate your injuries.

DO keep any and all conversations with your attorney, doctors and anyone else involved PRIVATE. All of these interactions are extremely confidential and should not make their way onto any public platforms.

DON’T use social media to contact other parties involved in your case. Social media is a great networking tool but not for legal matters. It may seem tempting or easy to engage with others regarding your case but it certainly isn’t wise. Contact between parties must be between lawyers on each side. Do not reach out via social media to anyone involved in the case. This will come back to bite. Hard.

DO avoid engaging in anything publicly written or reported on your case. Sometimes accidents and legal matters make the news or have articles published. Refrain from commenting, criticizing, arguing or otherwise involving yourself.  Stay out of it online.

DO keep in mind that posts or information that seems innocent could still be used against you. Insurance companies and attorneys for the opposing party can get creative and misconstrue seemingly harmless details about your life if given the opportunity.

Insurance companies, attorneys and courts have recognized the potential influence of social media accounts and postings on personal injury claims. Although considered uncharted legal territory not too long ago, nowadays it can be a major source of evidence. More often than not, this evidence can be used against you and be harmful to your case. We encourage you to possibly suspend your accounts and be mindful if you continue to use them.

Unfortunately, sharing certain information on social media can undermine your case. At Schulze Law, we can help represent you in your personal injury case and guide you on what is and is not appropriate for social media based on your particular claim.