Impact of social networks on personal injury claims
Social media is ubiquitous. The weight of social networks in our daily lives is on the rise; as time goes by, social networks acquire a much greater importance. They have become crucial for education, for personal relationships and even for business. The weight exercised by social networks is so high that some universities review Facebook profile of their future students to know what kind of people they are giving a place in their classrooms; in fact, Harvard recently canceled the admission of 10 students for publishing offensive memes in a private group on Facebook.
Another point to consider is when writing about your case online or commenting about any evidence, this would be in writing and if written under your name, it could be used as evidence against you. It is important to not disclose information about any legal cases that you are part of on any of your social media network so that you can avoid any negative consequences.
Precisely as of the scope of their impact and influence, they are also witnessing illegal behavior on social networks, such as harassment, cyberbullying, the placement of crime photos, and so on. The use of social networks can also generate legal responsibilities. In other words, you can go to jail if you do not make legal use of social networks.
While most people can recognize the great importance of social networks in everyday life, few can determine exactly how far it reaches. Few people are aware of the impact of social networks on personal injury claims.
Your publications can be used against you
First of all, it is necessary to clarify certain basic points about the claims of personal injuries. The claims are made by people who have suffered injuries or wounds as of a third party; and the purpose of such claims is the search for compensation by the third party responsible for the injuries.
However, this third party responsible will hire a lawyer, who will do everything possible to discredit or reduce the credibility of your claim: he or she will argue that your injuries are not serious or are insignificant. The idea is to reduce the amount of compensation, so that the responsible party does not disburse large amounts of money. And for this, a lawyer will use many tools: from hiring a private detective, to conducting interviews with family, friends, neighbors, and so on.
But many plaintiffs, unaware of the impact of social networks on personal injury claims, make publications on their social networks that end up being used against them: a simple and innocent photo in which a plaintiff appears mowing the grass, is more enough to discredit your claim. “How is a person who demands compensation for personal injuries mowing the lawn?
At the same time, it is necessary to point out that the claims of personal injuries are not necessarily limited to physical damages; on the contrary, most of the claims also demand compensation for psychological damages, such as stress, trauma, anxiety, and so on. And if we consider that people usually place merely positive things in their social networks, then we can understand the ease with which a lawyer can reduce the amount of compensation with a simple publication on Facebook, for example.
It probably sounds absurd in appearance, but if analyzed carefully, you can find logic and validity to this issue: if a person is making a claim as his life will never be the same, as he constantly suffers from episodes of stress, and so on. Why do his social networks show just the opposite?
The plaintiff may retort that social networks are mere appearance and that they are not a reliable reflection of the person’s life; he or she can also replicate that it is mere optimism put into practice to be able to cope with psychological disorders. And that is also valid. However, a jury will take it as pure rhetoric and declare as admissible and competent the argument of the defendant’s lawyer.
The case of a student who filed a complaint against her teacher, the school district and other school authorities is emblematic, in which she stated that she was traumatized as the aforementioned did not protect her when she was sexually harassed by one of his teachers.
The defendants’ lawyers reviewed the student’s social networks and found tons of evidence that contradicted her allegations of trauma: photos of her drinking alcohol; photos in which he appeared with a smile from ear to ear; and photos where he appeared having fun and socializing with his friends. The cherry on the cake was his age, so in the end his demand was discredited.
It may seem unfair – and indeed it is. But that’s the reality of the courts and it is a demonstration of how inhuman the lawyers can be. But we are not all like that.
Angry comments about the defendant can also be used against you
Being angry is completely normal if you have unfortunately been the victim of an accident that was caused by the negligence -intentional or not- of a third party. And releasing this anger can be healthy. However, it is advisable that you do not release this anger publicly through social networks, as such comments can also be used against you.
The comments can be used as evidence to accuse you of “sue happy”, that is, a person who constantly introduces demands to reach economic agreements and be benefited. And if a jury accepts the “sue happy” plea, obviously your personal injury claim will be declared invalid.
A famous case of “sue happy” was a lawsuit filed against McDonalds for a hot coffee. While this claim is absurd, your personal injury claim can also be considered in the same way if you make inappropriate comments about the defendant on your social networks. It is as simple as that you can be accused that you are filing a claim for blood drops, rather than for a real and visible wound.
At the same time, the comments you make about another person say a lot about your personality. If you issue acid or negative opinions about the accused, your lawyer will use them as evidence that you are a resentful, bitter and deranged person. The personality is a factor that is taken into account when evaluating the intentionality and the motives of the demand: it is not the same a claim made by a vengeful and resentful person that the claim made by a calm and rational person.
Considering all this, the question arises: what if I post publications about the severity and the state of my wounds, as well as the consequences that are generating in my day to day? Well… believe it or not, that’s not a good idea either.
Personal injury claims are complex and one of the most difficult aspects is to determine the nature and severity of injuries. It is for this reason that lawyers usually hire and solicit the professional opinion of a group of experts in the medical field. The opinions are considered and then they are collated to reach a conclusion. The purpose of the accused party’s lawyer is precisely to identify or locate some disconnect between the statements of the medical staff and the actual nature of the injuries.
Now, if you place photos and issue opinions about your wounds, you run the risk of generating a discrepancy, as you are not a doctor or have knowledge in that area. A skilled lawyer will use your own harmless publications of your wounds as a basis to claim that the injuries are not as serious as you claim.
We already know the influence of social networks on personal injury claims. We fully understand that publications about our private lives on social networks can be counterproductive: they can be used against us to discredit our claims or reduce the amount of compensation.
Now that we are fully familiar with this topic, it is time to ask ourselves: what to do then? Basically, you have two options: the first is that you are careful with what you post on your social networks (try not to place photos of yourself, make sure you set the privacy of your profile, and so on.); the second one is directly not to use your social networks while your claim is open and in dispute.
The second option is the most convenient and the most comfortable: the most convenient as even the most innocuous publication can be used against you, so any publication is potentially counterproductive; and it is the most comfortable as you can relax, get fresh air and avoid the stress that can be meticulously observing each publication you intend to make on your social networks.
The fact that social networks can change the course of a personal injury claim says a lot about their importance. Legally, our profiles on social networks can be considered as real manifestations of our personal lives, so we must be careful with the content we post.