The Role of Social Media in Personal Injury Claims: Dos and Don’ts in New Jersey
October 03, 2023
Navigating the intricate web of a personal injury claim can be challenging. With the modern surge of social media, it has added a layer of complexity that claimants need to understand. At DiTomaso Law, we believe that being informed is crucial. Hence, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the role of social media in personal injury claims in New Jersey.
The Growing Relevance of Social Media
Social media has emerged as an integral part of our daily lives. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms offer people the opportunity to share snippets of their lives, express emotions, and connect. But while these sites serve as invaluable tools for socialization, they can also inadvertently become evidence against individuals in the course of personal injury claims.
The increasing role social media plays in these claims and how both claimants and defendants must navigate this terrain with caution and awareness.
Several court cases have set precedents for using social media as evidence. Courts have often ruled that if the content on a plaintiff’s social media account contradicts their claims, it’s relevant and admissible. However, fishing expeditions without specific evidence indicating relevance may be discouraged.
There are ethical boundaries. For instance, while an attorney can view publicly available social media content, they cannot “friend” someone under false pretenses to access private content. Legal professionals must remain aware of and respect these boundaries.
The Future Landscape
As technology and social media evolve, so will their role in personal injury claims. Emerging platforms and technologies, like augmented reality and newer forms of social interaction, will present fresh challenges and opportunities for legal professionals.
Why Does Social Media Matter in Personal Injury Claims?
In the age of digital connectivity, social media has woven its way into almost every facet of daily life. From sharing moments with friends to broadcasting our thoughts to the world, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok have become mainstays in communication. But when you’re involved in a personal injury claim, these platforms can play a more significant role than you might think. So, why does social media matter in such legal proceedings?
1. Evidence Gathering
- Contradictory Evidence: Insurers and defense attorneys can scour your social media profiles for photos, videos, or status updates that contradict your injury claims. For example, if you assert severe back pain but are pictured doing a strenuous activity, it can be used against you.
- Timeline Checks: Posts can establish when particular events took place, potentially contradicting assertions made in the claim.
- Emotional State Checks: Emotional damages are a component of many personal injury claims. Social media can be mined for evidence of your emotional state before and after the event.
2. Character Assessment
- Perception and Credibility: While it may not seem fair, opposing counsel can leverage unrelated posts or photos to paint you in a negative light. A post from years ago can be taken out of context to question your character or credibility.
- Associations: Who you associate with, especially if they’re connected to the incident in question, can become a point of interest.
3. Public Nature of Social Media
- Privacy Is Not Guaranteed: Even if your account is set to private, there are legal avenues through which opposing counsel can access content. This means your posts are not as private as you might believe.
- Permanent Digital Footprint: Even deleted posts can sometimes be retrieved, creating a digital paper trail of your activities and statements.
4. Scope of Influence
- Witnesses and Testimonies: If witnesses to an event discuss it on social media, their accounts can be dissected for consistency and credibility.
- Public Sentiment: Public posts can also sway public opinion, which may be relevant if a case garners broader attention.
5. Location Data
- Tracking movements: Some social media platforms tag your location when you post. This data can be used to track movements and locations, which might be relevant in corroborating or disproving elements of a claim.
Dos and Don’ts for Social Media During a Personal Injury Claim
To protect your personal injury claim’s integrity and increase your chances of a successful outcome, follow these dos and don’ts:
- Review Privacy Settings: Ensure your accounts are set to private. However, understand that even with strict privacy settings, your posts might still be accessible by legal means.
- Educate Your Connections: Inform friends and family not to post anything related to your case or injuries without your knowledge or approval.
- Document Relevant Posts: If you come across posts that could support your claim, screenshot and save them. This can include posts from witnesses or those responsible for your injury.
- Avoid New Connections: Be wary of new friends or follow requests during your claim process. They could be from individuals related to opposing parties trying to access your content.
- Refrain from Discussing Your Case: No matter how tempted, never discuss your case specifics, emotions related to it, or any settlements on social media.
- Don’t Post Physical Activities: Even if you feel a burst of energy on a particular day during your recovery, avoid posting about any physical activity. It can be taken out of context.
- Avoid Deleting Posts: Deleting posts can be perceived as destroying evidence. If you feel a post could be harmful, discuss it with your attorney first.
How DiTomaso Law Can Help
At DiTomaso Law, we recognize the potential pitfalls social media can bring to a personal injury case. Our team of experts remains at the forefront of this evolving challenge. We advise our clients not only on the legal aspects of their claims but also guide them on how to best navigate the digital world during their case.
Should you find yourself amid a personal injury claim or if you’re unsure about the implications of your social media activity, it’s essential to have experienced professionals by your side. DiTomaso Law prides itself on ensuring our clients are equipped with the best advice and strategies in every facet of their case, including the modern challenges posed by social media.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer at DiTomaso Law for a Free Consultation About Your Case Today
In today’s digital age, our online actions can carry significant consequences. By understanding the dos and don’ts of social media in personal injury claims, claimants can safeguard their case’s integrity. The key takeaway? Always consider the implications of a post before hitting the ‘share’ button and trust in your legal representation to guide you. At DiTomaso Law, we are committed to ensuring our clients’ rights are protected, both offline and online. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your personal injury case.
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