Imagine a trial where the defendant is on the stand testifying that they were not drinking the night of the accident. In fact his entire testimony is about he doesn’t drink and at the time of the car accident he was completely sober. He sounds good, sounds believable and seems contrite that the accident took place. Now imagine the plaintiff’s attorney standing up and approaching the defendant. Imagine the attorney asking about whether the defendant has a Facebook account. Imagine what the jury is thinking when the plaintiff’s lawyer produces pictures of the defendant on his Facebook account showing him holding bottles of beer (and clearly under the influence).
The role of social media is directly influencing personal injury cases. Many times defense attorneys request pages from social media which references the car wreck, slip and fall or other injury the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit regarding. As such, our personal injury attorneys tell our clients during the first meeting not discuss the accident, incident or injury on social media. When the client does post something a skillful defense attorney can spin the statement in a way which benefits their case. Further, many times an innocuous statement can be taken out of context. A jury hearing this statement can view the Plaintiff in a different light which may result in an unfavorable outcome. Best practices dictate that clients should limit discussions of their case and injuries to their lawyer and doctors. Of course, this can work both ways. Our personal injury lawyers will look into the social media of the defendants to see if they discussed the incident. Sometimes statements made by the defendant on social media will be diametrically different than statements made in court, to the benefit of our clients.
Social media is becoming a bigger problem for younger victims of car accidents. Younger people are so used to sharing all intimate aspects of their life they don’t have a problem sharing how they are feeling following an accident. We tell our clients to remember once they hit send it can’t be brought back. The other thing to keep in mind is that if they are out with friends those friends can upload pictures to their account, which could tag the plaintiff. For example if a client is complaining of neck and back pain and picture of them with their friends at a club will be hard to explain.
In the end we advise I clients to live their lives as they would normally do. However, before they post anything which may haunt them for the duration of their case to think about it first.