With more and more people sharing the events of their lives on social media, defendants, insurers and defense counsel, are using what you put out in the public forum to try to lessen the amount of money they have to pay on your case.
Therefore, it is very important to exercise extreme caution before posting. I tell clients “imagine you are standing on top of a mountain and shouting the information to a sea of reporters down below.”
You do not know how the news makers of the day are going to take what you said and relay it to others. Therefore, as tempting as it may be to share what you’re going through and how you’re doing, DON’T.
A safe recommendation is to simply stop posting anything personal for a while. If you have prior posts, those are already in the public domain and assume the other side already has them.
You should tell your lawyer about anything you may have posted in the past related to your claim, and your lawyer will work on mitigating any harm, or make sure you can relay to the other side exactly what was going on at the time.
If you simply must post, the following should be avoided:
- Do not post updates about test results, imaging results or any other medical related information whether good or bad. (Yes, I have had clients post their diagnoses, treatment progress and even their perception of their spouses feelings about their function.) The simple rule is DON’T share that information with the public.
- Be careful about the pictures you’re posting. For example, I’ve had a head injured client with balance issues struggling to continue their normal family life, take photos out on the boat smiling with the family and post them. What the photos did not show was the constant vomiting and sweating my client experienced trying to go out on the boat for a few minutes only to cut the trip short because they just couldn’t handle the motion. The same is true if you have a neck and back strain from a car crash. If you post photos of the family on a camping trip, the assumption is you were able to pack and haul heavy items, sleep on the ground and carry on life as normal with the family. If you attempted normal life, but had a horrible time or had to end the trip early, none of that is visible.
- Refrain from sharing relationship information with the public. This means the fact you had an argument with your spouse should not be posted even though you’re upset and in desperate need of validation for your position. It’s highly likely you and your spouse will work through the difficulty in time, but the “rant” does not disappear. The information can be used at some point to try to lessen the amount of your damages. The same goes for arguments with friends, co-workers and other family members. Those people may be “witnesses” in your case, and you do not want an old dispute suddenly creating new issues for you.
- Use common sense before posting information others may find offensive. For example, don’t post content containing swear words. Anyone who knows me knows I have a challenge not having swear words pop out of my mouth. Thing is, I try not to post them on social media. Content that could be viewed as vulgar or offensive should also be avoided. Before offering any money on your case, the insurer and defense attorney are getting a sense of who you are as a person and trying to decide if a jury will like you. While these type of post likely will not come in at trial, it may inhibit your ability to get a fair settlement value for your case without the need for a trial. Trial is expensive, so if you can get a fair resolution without the expense of trial you have more money in your pocket in the end.
As an attorney, I personally follow a few rules with any post I make. I share events I think others would be interested in, articles or information that can improve someone’s life, product postings for things I like, and moments in my life that I don’t mind if everyone in the world were to see now and in the future.
If I were injured somehow or dealing with a claim, I would NOT share those “moments” in my life because I may care about the perception others could have.
Following these guidelines will help insure that your personal information is not used in a negative manner to harm your case.
If you have any question regarding whether you should or should not post something to social media when your claim is pending, ask your lawyer BEFORE posting the content.