Bottom line, be careful whatSocial Media as Evidence
In most personal injury cases, this issue of whether you can use social media as evidence comes up often. In this
article we’re going to do discuss what you should and should not do with regard to your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. If you have any questions about this issue or you have been involved in an accident, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.
Social Media as Evidence
Personal injury cases are won and lost based on evidence. In the past, this was restricted to witness testimony, the statements of the parties involved, and the written documents, usually in paper form, that supported your case.
Today, evidence is totally different. While the above sources are still available, the first place we look today for evidence is online. Our clients were involved in automobile, slip and fall, or other types of accidents. Most of our clients have social media accounts as do most of the people involved in the accidents with our clients. As such, when we get a call from a new client, the first thing we do is look them up on the internet. The most abundant source of information comes from Facebook.
Facebook has more than 1 billion daily active users. YouTube has 1.5 billion active monthly users. These people are posting content online at an astounding rate. And they spend an enormous amount of time online. It’s estimated that the average person spends five hours a day on their mobile device. Most of that time is spent on apps. We’re now spending more time on apps than we spend watching television.
This corresponds with an increase in criminal conduct on Facebook. On Facebook Live, there have been at least 45 instances of violence, such as rape and murder, broadcast live. What is wrong with these people?
Personal Injury Cases
Our firm does not practice criminal law, we are a civil practice. Our cases do not involve incarceration, but rather financial compensation for our clients who were victims of accidents. Most of our clients have Facebook or other social media accounts, as do the people who caused their accident. We look every one of them up.
Social Media as Evidence – Example
Believe us, if we are checking your social media, so are insurance adjusters. And the insurance adjuster’s sole job is to pay you as little as they can for your injuries. As such, we advise all our clients not to post excessively on Facebook about your accident. And, be wary of what you post period.
We had a case where our client suffered a real knee injury as a result of a motorcycle collision that was not his fault. He underwent significant medical treatment (not surgery) and physical therapy. The medical records were filled with references to his pain and discomfort.
Unfortunately, at the same time our client was reporting pain in his knee to his physical therapist, he continued to engage in a very active lifestyle that included working on small, personal helicopters. He posted photos of him engaging in this activity on Facebook. He was bending down, working on the engine, bending over, carrying things, flying the helicopter and so on. Sure enough, the insurance adjuster looked him up on Facebook. They used his social media as evidence against us. Because of this, the adjuster scoffed at our demands and we were forced to resolve the matter for far less than it would have been worth but for the social media evidence.
We have also used social media as evidence against the person who caused the collision. People often admit fault on Facebook. We’ve seen posts where people admitted they ran a stop light or didn’t see someone before an accident. All we had to do is take a screenshot of those posts to enable us to capitalize on them. Ultimately, we would have to authenticate them as evidence in court if the matter went that far. But that is not the topic of this article.
Other Electronic Evidence
As an aside, other forms of electronic evidence are excellent as well. We’ve had several cases where our clients and the defendants who caused their injuries texted about the collision after it happened. We’ve had more than one occasion where a defendant admitted fault in a text. In one case, the defendant, a young woman, admitted she was texting while she was driving and as a result did not see our client. She lied to her insurance company and told them she was blinded by the sun. This did not go well for her.
Bottom line, be careful what you post online as the insurance company or attorneys involved will use your social media as evidence against you. If you have any questions about the use of social media, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.