A young woman sustained serious injuries in a car wreck, including a broken arm and a permanent facial scar. At trial, she asked a Gwinnett County Jury for $1.1 million, but a skilled defense lawyers turned her Twitter feed against her. Since the day of the wreck, she had posted a few upbeat messages about her facial scar. She had taken a trip to New Orleans and had some fun with friends and posted that the weekend was fun.
The jury interpreted her social media posts as evidence that her injuries were insignificant. Consequently, the jury valued her injuries at only $237,000, less than 25% of what she had requested.
This is all too common a tale in personal injury suits in the social media era. Facebook, Twitter, text messages, etc. are often a treasure trove of evidence for the defense team. They are a painful reminder that there is no privacy in social media. Your posts are publicly available to insurance companies and their lawyers. They will get them, and they will turn them against you.
Equally dangerous is the destruction of information that you have posted. “Cleaning up your Facebook page” has been deemed by Courts to constitute the destruction of evidence, and injury victims and their lawyers have been severely sanctioned by Judges for removing information from Facebook.
The moral of the story is stay out of social media when it comes to your injuries. Keep your friends and family up to date on your recovery the old fashion way: call them.
Consider changing your privacy settings on Facebook to prevent other people from “tagging” you in photos. Photo tagging is particularly dangerous because the photos have no date. A friend could tag you in a photo from a fraternity party that took place 5 years before the injury, and the defense lawyers could present that as evidence of post-injury conduct.
If you can’t break the addiction to social media, then, at the very least, consider posting the whole picture of your post-injury life. Include embarrassing photos from the hospital. Share the bad days as well as the good. Otherwise, you are handing the insurance companies false evidence that the injuries have had no significant impact on your life.