Social media posts can impact Bellingham accident victims' personal injury claims

For most Whatcom County accident victims, social media is the least of their concerns. Paying medical bills, making ends meet despite taking time off work, and healing physically and emotionally are much more immediate needs. However, social media has made its way into so many aspects of our lives and can be a way to stay in touch with friends and our communities even while recovering from an accident. Here's what accident victims need to think about as they balance recovering from their injuries with trying to go on with their lives.

How Injured Do You Appear?

While medical records are typically used to establish physical injury, a plaintiff who claims he or she is unable to enjoy daily physical activities could inadvertently discredit his or her claim by posting social media photos and videos of themselves dancing, exercising at the gym, or playing sports. Photos that show extensive or frequent travel may discount a plaintiff's assertion that his or her mobility has been limited due to injuries caused by the accident.

Emotional Distress

A personal injury lawsuit may also include a claim for anxiety, depression, isolation, and withdrawal that results from the accident and related physical injuries. Social media posts that show the plaintiff in a generally happy emotional state and enjoying life after the accident may be used to dispute a claim for emotional distress compensation.

Resist the Urge to Overshare

Social media has become a communication staple for many people (and is unfortunately a growing factor in causing car accidents). From checking in with friend, family, and even strangers throughout the day to chronicling daily activities and memorable moments, sharing too much information is a mistake that is very easy to make. However, plaintiffs should consider their communication carefully and avoid saying anything they would not want to be reviewed in court. Posts that discuss intended ways of spending award money or that provide details related to the accident should be avoided. As a general rule, plaintiffs should think of their social media accounts as public record. In certain instances, defendants in past personal injury cases have successfully sought and been granted access to plaintiffs' social media posts. Courts may even order platforms like Snapchat to preserve user records for a specified amount of time in the interest of obtaining case-related content.

Precautionary Steps

Avoiding social media posts while involved in an injury lawsuit is best; however, some people may struggle to completely refrain from posting. Those who would like to continue to use social media as a communication tool should ideally do the following:

  • Avoid posting messages regarding their pending case, and they should also avoid sharing photos that depict recent hobbies, activities, and excursions.
  • Asking friends and relatives not to use tags in photos and videos may also help the plaintiff carefully monitor content that may be viewable from his or her own page.
  • Social media users should also adjust their privacy settings to limit the number of posts that may be viewed by the general public or retrieved through search engines.
  • During this time, friend requests from strangers may appear. These requests should be denied if the account owner does not know the requester directly.

Social media is here to stay, especially for younger generations. But accident victims need to think carefully about how they interface with these public records. If you've been injured in an accident, talk to us at Bill Coats Law to determine what's the best way forward. You might be eligible for more compensation than the insurance company has initially offered.

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