Jul 20, 2021
Last year, an estimated 4.8 million drivers and passengers were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that those car accident injuries cost society around $474 billion. That’s quite a toll, with the losses often being manifested through hospital or medical bills, lost wages, and more.
As the victim, after an unfortunate car accident injury you will want to be sure that you take all necessary steps to ensure your claim reaches a just resolution. Furthermore, you’ll want to be sure you don’t take any steps that could jeopardize the success of your claim (or reduce the potential financial compensation you rightfully deserve).
One of the most common ways injured car accident victims (knowingly or unknowingly) harm their legitimate personal injury claims is by posting on social media platforms. Below we will look at the potential effects posting to social media can have on a car accident personal injury claim, and provide information on how to keep sensitive information that could harm your case away from the opposition.
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “absolutely not.” Although it may be tempting (and completely understandable) to want to reach out to family and friends for support on social media after a traumatic car accident, doing so can easily backfire. In fact, post-car accident social media posts can actually provide the at-fault party’s legal team with information that can later be used against you. After a car accident injury, the only information you share should be with a qualified personal injury lawyer.
There are a number of negative consequences that can result from a social media post (which, it should be noted, includes all platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tik Tok, LinkedIn, etc.). For starters, anything you post – even the most seemingly innocent of comments – could be interpreted as an admission of guilt or fault.
Simply posting something lighthearted like, “Never thought missing my morning cup of coffee would land me in the hospital with a broken leg,” and a picture of the injury you sustained in the car accident could be used to establish an argument that you actually caused the crash.
Was the accident your fault? Did your lack of caffeine consumption reduce your reaction time? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean the opposing side won’t do everything in their power to make such arguments, potentially dissolving your claim.
In fact, insurance companies representing at-fault drivers utilize teams of high-powered attorneys to scour the internet (including each and every one of your social media pages) looking for any shred of information that could increase your percentage of fault and reduce your overall financial damages award.
As California is a pure comparative fault state (also commonly referred to as comparative negligence), a percentage of negligence or liability is assigned to each party in a personal injury car accident claim. Under California’s comparative fault law, an individual can recover financial damages despite being partially to blame for a car accident. As a result, California residents who are involved in car accidents may still be able to recover some financial compensation, even if they are 99% responsible for the crash. Unless one driver is deemed to be 100% liable for a car accident, shared fault will be applied by the court. Accordingly, it is always advisable that car accident victims take steps to ensure that no information which could somehow be misconstrued as a confession or admission of guilt is ever posted online.
In addition to social media posts being misinterpreted as admissions of guilt, a simple post to Facebook or Twitter after a car accident could immediately destroy confidentiality. As mentioned earlier, the only person you should ever share information about your car accident with is a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer.
Any information shared with your car accident lawyer is protected by attorney-client privilege. But the moment you share something about your car accident on social media (or anywhere online for that matter), that information automatically becomes public, and is therefore fair game for the opposing party to scrutinize and potentially use against you to harm your claim.
Any information – even the most mundane or minor detail – can open the door to additional information, perhaps of a private nature, becoming public. In other words, by sharing information related to facts of your car accident on social media, you could potentially make other more sensitive and private information – such as medical conditions, your emotional state, or your mental health – public.
While such personal information is normally protected and only available to your car accident attorney, by posting on social media you can (often inadvertently and without even realizing) invalidate that confidentiality, allowing the opposing side – whether an at-fault party or insurance company – access. And that previously confidential information can easily jeopardize the success of your claim and potentially reduce the financial compensation you receive. While it may not seem like a major concern, posting anything about your car accident is discouraged given the possible negative ramifications.
But beyond disclosing private and possibly sensitive information to the opposition, a quick social media post is also an opportunity for an argument to be made that you’re not actually hurt (or your injury isn’t as severe as your claim indicates).
For example, let’s say you’re injured in a car accident and taken to the hospital. You have a broken arm and a hip fracture – two serious injuries that could warrant a substantial financial damages award. Although you may be undergoing rehabilitation or physical therapy and enduring a great deal of pain and suffering, a picture of you smiling at the beach posted to Instagram is sure to induce an argument from the opposing party that your injuries aren’t that severe, and your financial compensation should be reduced accordingly.
Does a picture of a day at the beach negate the fact that you’re in pain and suffering through strenuous physical therapy or rehabilitation multiple times per week? Technically no, but social media is all about perception. Although you may be legitimately injured, and those injuries may require years of medical care at inordinate expense, the opposing side in a car accident case will do whatever they can to reduce the overall amount of financial compensation they have to pay – even if it means taking an innocent picture of you at the beach completely out of context.
A car accident personal injury case is essentially a battle between two opposing sides – one trying to ensure fair compensation is awarded for any injuries, and the other in the business of trying to minimize that figure as much as possible. Hence, as an injured car accident victim, you don’t want to give the opposing side any “ammunition” that could help their argument while harming yours. That’s one of the many reasons why we at Dordulian Law Group (DLG) encourage injured victims to never speak to the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced, dedicated, and qualified car accident attorney from our team. The slightest slip of the tongue – “I didn’t see them” or “I don’t think I was speeding” – can come back to haunt a car accident victim.
Furthermore, a constant online presence – whether posts, likes, comments, etc. – can be used by the opposing side as an argument that rather than being injured and dealing with pain and suffering, you’re actually back to “normal.” Even if you’re not posting a picture of yourself at a party with a margarita in your hand, consistent online activity – including social media interactions – can be misconstrued as an indication that you aren’t injured (and therefore are not entitled to financial compensation).
Of course, a car accident injury shouldn’t confine you to a life without an internet connection. But that doesn’t mean the opposing side won’t make the argument that because you were well enough to like or comment on various social media platforms, you’re technically well enough to not require additional medical care (and the correlating costs that would otherwise be their responsibility). Although that may sound like an absurd (and entirely unfair) argument, it’s something we see every day when fighting for the rights of car accident victims.
In short, it’s not fair that car injured car accident victims should be expected to stay offline until their claim reaches a final conclusion. That said, it’s absolutely in the victim’s best interest to do just that, as refraining from posting, liking, or commenting on any number of social media platforms can be the difference between a $10,000 and $10 million car accident settlement. While it might be difficult to stay offline, it’s important to remember that it’s only temporary, and if it ultimately comes down to a matter of having your medical expenses and pain and suffering completely covered versus the satisfaction of posting a few times to Instagram, the choice should be fairly easy to make.
While you may think that if your settings are set to ‘private’ you’re in the clear for posting on social media after a car accident, you may want to consider that a Facebook representative stated the following in 2019:
“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy.”
Oren Snyder, Facebook Counsel
Let’s be honest, irrespective of what your personal settings may say, anything posted online is – always and forever – officially in the public domain. If you don’t want it to be made public at some point, it’s best to simply not post it in the first place.
As a 2018 Forbes report noted, a personal injury lawsuit – Largent v. Reed – involved a plaintiff claiming that a recent accident had left her with severe physical and mental pain. However, during the course of the litigation, defendants presented the court with post-accident photos that the individual had posted to her Facebook account. According to the defense team, those photos demonstrated the plaintiff was “clearly feeling well enough to engage in her daily activities, attend the gym, and otherwise thoroughly enjoy life.” When the defense team presented the court with the social media posts, the plaintiff was ordered to hand over her Facebook login information for “further inspection.”
In other words, do not, under any circumstances, post anything to any social media platform while you’re involved in a car accident (or any other personal injury) claim. When the claim has been resolved, you can resume your regular social media activity. But in the interim, it is strongly advised that injured victims log out of their social media accounts (for the full duration of any litigation).
If you’re reading this blog after having already posted ‘post-crash’ content to social media, don’t delete it in a panic. Doing so could be viewed as tampering or attempting to destroy evidence (again, it’s not necessarily a matter of your true intent, it’s a matter of how the defense can frame your actions to be perceived a certain way).
If some post-car accident pictures or comments already exist, contact an experienced and dedicated attorney at DLG today for a free consultation (and be sure to inform him or her of all existing social media posts that have been made). When you reach out to DLG, we’ll listen to the facts of your case, launch a thorough investigation led by a retired LAPD Central Traffic Division detective (our in-house Chief Investigator, Moses Castillo), and develop a precise legal strategy based on our decades of experience and proven results.
At DLG, we’re led by a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian. With over 100 jury trial victories, Dordulian brings a level of experience to your car accident claim that can’t be found at most other firms. Moreover, unlike settlement mill firms, Dordulian’s courtroom expertise gives our car accident victims an added advantage.
If an insurance company tries to push a lowball settlement offer, we take the case to trial and prove it before a jury. With DLG, you can have peace of mind knowing that we’ll never accept an unfair settlement offer and will always fight for the maximum financial compensation you deserve – even if that means taking your case to trial.
Moreover, with two of our Car Accident Division attorneys having previously worked as defense counsel for major auto insurance companies, we know every dirty trick and underhanded tactic utilized by these corporations. Accordingly, we’re able to protect your rights and counter any of these methods effectively – ensuring you recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve for all applicable damages (both economic and non-economic).
With a 98% success record and more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts successfully recovered for injured victims like you, DLG is the absolute best choice available when searching for a car accident lawyer in the Los Angeles, California-area. Don’t settle for anything less than the DLG Advantage.
Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 to learn more about how we can help you secure the maximum damages award you deserve to make a complete recovery after an unfortunate car accident – physically, emotionally, and financially. When you suffer a California car accident injury, the best call you can make is to DLG.
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