More than 4.48 billion people currently use social media, according to the University of Maine. This is double the number of people who used social media in 2015. Social media provides a way for people to connect no matter where they are located. Therefore, after a car accident, it is likely that car accident victims might want to reach out to their online social networks for support. However, social media and car accidents are not a good mix. An experienced Yonkers, New York car accident lawyer from Stufano Law may be able to discuss the dangers of sharing information online after a car accident. Learn more by contacting them at (914) 752-7746.
How Social Media Impacts Car Accident Claims
Many people try to limit others’ access to what they share on social media by adjusting their privacy settings. However, this action can sometimes lull people into believing that no one outside their accepted network can access any information from their social media pages. According to the New York State Bar Association, information stored on social media accounts is largely discoverable. The test of whether the plaintiff can be compelled to provide access to such information is not whether the information is considered public vs. private but rather whether it is likely to contain relevant information about the case. Therefore, accident victims should be on alert that anything they share on social media may wind up being introduced as evidence in their court case.
Insurance companies and defense attorneys often monitor social media accounts for information they can use against the accident victim, such as:
- Posts and pictures about activities the plaintiff is engaging in that may cast doubt on their statements regarding the extent and severity of their injuries
- Statements about the accident that could be interpreted as admitting fault for the accident
- Confidential information the plaintiff shared with their attorney about the case
- Negative comments about the insurance company or defendant that suggest the plaintiff is not participating in the claims process in good faith
Even the frequency of posts may indicate that a person is not as affected by the accident as the plaintiff claims.
What To Do With Social Media After a Car Accident
If someone has been involved in a car accident, there are some things they can do to protect their case while still using social media. Individuals should consider these tips for what to do with their social media accounts.
Adjust Your Privacy Setting
Set all social media accounts to “private.” This prevents people outside the individual’s social network from seeing what they post and sometimes sharing information posted to social accounts. Even though this is not a foolproof plan, it can at least prevent the immediate public disclosure of the person’s private information. Additionally, many cases settle without the need for a trial. Therefore, if the individual can prevent the insurance company from seeing their information online, they could potentially prevent the insurance company from ever gaining access to this information if their case never gets to the discovery phase.
Limit Your Posts and Be Careful About What You Post
Some lawyers might recommend that their clients not post anything online while their case is pending. If an individual is unable to do this, they can decrease the number of their posts.
If an individual decides to post while their case is pending, they should think carefully before they share information online, and consider how their statements might be interpreted in court. Accident victims may wish to avoid sharing any information related to the incident online, including details about how the accident happened, vehicle damage, injuries, medical appointments, or appointments with their lawyer, if they have hired one.
Monitor All of Your Social Media Accounts
Even if people are circumspect in their social media use, others might be sharing privileged information about them online. Individuals may wish to check all of their social media accounts regularly in order to monitor for any erroneous, misleading, or simply ill-advised, disclosures. If they find someone has shared details about the accident, or information that may otherwise harm their case, they should request the other person take the information down.
Consider Talking to a Lawyer
Car accident cases can be complicated and confusing. While individuals are not prohibited from managing their cases themselves, they may have questions that an attorney can assist them with. Additionally, an attorney may be able to provide guidance through the legal process and help an individual understand how to determine what would be an appropriate settlement amount.
If you have any questions about social media use while your case is pending, consider reaching out to get assistance from a car accident lawyer from Stufano Law. Our team understands the concerns brought up by social media and car accidents and may be able to offer additional tips on protecting your privacy during this critical time.
What Not To Do With Social Media After a Car Accident
If an individual was recently involved in a car accident, they may be tempted to talk about it on social media. This can be detrimental to their case. Consider these tips on what not to do on social media.
Accept New Friend Requests
Insurance companies, defense attorneys, and their employees might be attempting to infiltrate an individual’s social media accounts to see what information they can get. Individuals should be hesitant about accepting any new friend requests unless they know the sender in person.
Any admission an individual makes about fault for the accident could potentially be used against them. Even an otherwise completely innocent statement may be able to be twisted and used against the individual. This is why their social media accounts should not contain any of the following comments about the car accident:
- I am sorry.
- I did not see the other driver.
- The other driver came out of nowhere.
- It was my fault.
- I wrecked my car.
Share Photos or Videos About the Accident
Taking pictures or videos after an accident can be helpful in documenting damages and determining who is at fault for the accident, but individuals should not share these photos online until after the case has been resolved. This evidence should go to their lawyer, not the web.
Get Tagged in Others’ Photos
Car accident victims also want to avoid being tagged in others’ photos that could be used as evidence against them. Even a photo of the individual smiling or enjoying a night out with friends could be taken out of context. Because it can be difficult to prove when a photo that was shared online was taken, individuals should ask friends and family to refrain from posting any old, as well as any recent, photos that include them until the car accident case is resolved.
Discuss Your Injuries
Car accident victims frequently want to get comfort from their friends online after a traumatic event like a car crash. However, it is important that they not discuss their injuries, their treatment, or updates on their status online. The information they share online might contradict their medical records or provide grounds for the insurance company to minimize the value of their claim, particularly if more injuries are discovered later or the individual does not fully understand the extent of their injuries.
Share Details About the Accident
Finally, avoid sharing any other details about the accident. Individuals should not discuss anything they have shared with their lawyer, as any statements shared online could potentially be used as evidence in the car accident case.
Consider Contacting an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer for Guidance
If you have been involved in a car accident, you might want to consider contacting an experienced car accident lawyer. The lawyers from Stufano Law in Yonkers, New York are familiar with the interaction between social media and car accidents. We may be able to answer your questions about social media use and help you avoid common pitfalls. We offer a free, no-obligation case review, which you can arrange by calling (914) 752-7746.