Posting on Social Media After a Car Accident in North Carolina Can Wreck Your Case—Here’s How
- Posting on Social Media After a Car Accident in North Carolina Can Wreck Your Case—Here’s How
- When You Post on Social Media, the Insurance Company Sees It, Too
- 5 Ways Social Media Can Be Used Against You in a Personal Injury Case
- The Best Solution? Stay Off Social Media as Much as Possible After a Car Accident
- Contact Myers Law Firm if You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Accident in North Carolina
Posting on Social Media After a Car Accident in North Carolina Can Wreck Your Case—Here's How
After a traumatic car crash, it’s natural to want to reach out to family and friends. Whether you’re looking for support, sympathy, or just an opportunity to vent your frustrations, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can provide that outlet.
Unfortunately, when you use social media after a car accident, you may be setting a trap for yourself—especially if you plan to (or already have) filed an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. In some cases, even a seemingly innocent post that has nothing to do with the crash or the case could damage or even destroy your personal injury claim.
To help you understand how your social media activity can harm your legal case after a car accident, we’ve put together a list of common ways that the defense attorneys in your case could use the posts, comments, and pictures from your social media accounts against you.
When You Post on Social Media, the Insurance Company Sees It, Too
After a car accident, the auto insurer is going to conduct an independent investigation of your claim and gather evidence about the crash, your injuries, and your medical treatment.
It’s important to understand that their investigation is not neutral or impartial, and the insurance adjuster is not your friend. Insurance companies have a financial incentive to deny accident victims’ claims, so they look carefully and thoroughly for any evidence that can be used to harm your personal injury case.
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for them to find that evidence on your social media accounts and public posts. You should assume that anything you post publicly, or is posted about you publicly, will be seen by the insurer. And that means you need to be careful.
“I wanted to thank you. I know it takes a lot to put together a case. After the first time meeting with you, you remembered our information, barely referring to your notes and continued to do so. You were generous with your thoughts and ideas as to how we could get what we were hoping for and it's so appreciated. We couldn't have gotten the verdict yesterday without you....It really does make a difference that you seem to care.”
“I went to another law firm and they turned me down…would not take my case. Myers Law Firm met with me, handled my case and would not back down from insurance company. Even when they had to file suit to protect me for my personal injury and property damage. I received a very fair settlement. Mr. Myers I appreciate you and your staff.”
“Mr. Lee-Thanks to you and Bessie for all of your help last year and most recently with the referral. I sold the house and the kids and I moved 8 days before Christmas. God is good, faithful and true.”
5 Ways Social Media Can Be Used Against You in a Personal Injury Case
Even if you think you have nothing to hide, the unfortunate reality is that words, images, and even location check-ins that seem totally innocent—or even completely irrelevant—could be twisted and used against you by an insurance company acting in bad faith.
Here are a few of the most common tactics.
1. Your Comments About the Crash Might Be Interpreted as an Admission of Fault
People say all sorts of things in the stressful moments after a crash, and they have a natural tendency to want to apologize—or give others the benefit of doubt—even when it wasn’t their fault. Unfortunately, these statements can hurt your case, especially when social media preserves them for the defense to review and use against you.
Even brief comments that seem innocent, like “I never saw them coming” or “I couldn’t stop” give the other side something to work with as they try to argue that you played a role—even a minor one—in causing your own injuries.
In North Carolina, an admission of fault is especially costly. That’s because the state is one of just four in the U.S. that follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which means that anyone who is even slightly at fault for an accident is barred from making any financial recovery. Even if a jury determines you were just 5% or even 1% responsible, you will still walk away with nothing.
2. Talking About Your Case Could Destroy Your Confidentiality
When you talk with your lawyer about your case in private, you have complete confidentiality. Attorney-client privilege prohibits the lawyer from disclosing the details of your conversation (or other correspondence, such as letters or emails) to anyone else, or from anyone finding out what you talked about with your lawyer.
However, the details of your case only remain confidential if you’ve shared them with your lawyer and no one else. If you share information about your car accident and subsequent recovery on social media, that information becomes public and can be used against you. This includes information about things like:
- The circumstances of the crash
- Your physical health
- Medical conditions
- Your mental health
- Your emotional state
Any confidentiality protections that would have prevented the insurance company or their defense attorney from knowing about this information go out the window.
3. The Defense Might Use Your Activities to Claim You’re Not Really Hurt
Recovery from a car accident can be a long and difficult process, and every victim deserves bright moments in that journey. No one should expect you to be miserable all the time; attending a party with friends or having a night out at a sporting event might be the type of activity that lifts your spirits and motivates you to push forward in your recovery.
From the perspective of the insurance company and their lawyers, however, any moment of celebration or joy that you document on social media is ammunition they can use to claim you’re exaggerating your pain and suffering.
It doesn’t matter that your photo or status update doesn’t tell the full story. Maybe you were fighting through pain the entire time and barely managed to get out of the house. But even if there is an entirely innocent explanation, the insurer knows that these kinds of pictures can still have a large emotional impact on jury and put doubt in their minds. They won’t hesitate to pounce on anything they find in your social media feed and play it up as much as possible.
4. Even Being Too Active Online Might Hurt Your Case
So, you didn’t make any comments about the accident. You didn’t post any pictures of yourself at a birthday party or cookout having a beer with friends. That means you’re in the clear, right?
Maybe not. The insurance company could still try to use your overall activity level on social media as evidence that you’re exaggerating your injuries. If you’re posting, liking, commenting, or “checking in” constantly and you seem a little too upbeat or “normal” in your activities, the defense may try to argue that you haven’t experienced as much physical and emotional pain as you say.
This may seem completely ridiculous to the average person—should an injured and recovering victim not use their phone or computer and keep up with friends and family on social media? Still, it’s something you need to be ready for, because the defense will grasp at anything they can find to try and undermine your case.
5. Someone Else’s Posts Can Be Used Against You, Too
Even if you follow all the above advice to the letter, there’s one more important thing to remember—while you can control what you post, you can’t always control what others post about you. If those social media posts are visible to others, the insurance company’s investigation may find them.
It’s natural for parents, close family members, and other loved ones to want to show their love and support (or vent their frustrations) over social media. So you may need to have a very frank, honest discussion with them about why they shouldn’t do so, and how important it is. As bad as you would feel if one of your own posts wrecked your case, imagine how bad a loved one feel if the posted photos used against you by the defense were theirs.
Avoid discussing your car accident with anyone who does not need to know the details—in other words, your attorney and your medical team. If you are planning to spend time with others, ask them to refrain from posting about you, posting photos of you, tagging you in images, etc.
Finally, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know, or don’t know well. Ask your friends and loved ones to do the same. Unfortunately, this is a common (and easy) way that an investigator can gain access to supposedly “private” posts.
The Best Solution? Stay Off Social Media as Much as Possible After a Car Accident
We know it might sound difficult, but we usually recommend that victims stay off social media platforms completely after car accidents.
It might feel lonely and frustrating to be out of touch with people, but imagine how angry and helpless you’ll feel later if your social media activity ends up hurting your case and costing you tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in potential damages that you need to pay medical bills and expenses.
What About Making Posts Private?
While we do recommend that you set all your social media accounts to private as soon as possible after your accident, you should not let this give you a false sense of security. It might make it more difficult for the insurer to review your posts, but the reality is that they are often able to gain access anyway.
The privacy settings on your social media account don’t really matter when it comes to a personal injury lawsuit. Courts have repeatedly ruled that social media users can’t expect privacy when they post online. Even content marked or tagged as “private”—including direct messages to other users that are never intended to be seen by anyone else—can be used as evidence in lawsuits.
Truthfully, there’s no combination of privacy settings that can make your social media content “safe” after a car accident. You should always treat that anything you post as publicly accessible, regardless of settings.
What if I’ve Already Posted About My Accident on Social Media?
If you’ve already posted information on your social accounts and you’re regretting it after you read this article, do NOT go back and delete the posts or content in question. The consequences for this could be serious.
The court might view this as tampering with evidence, especially if the attorneys for the other side have already made a discovery request asking for access to your social media accounts. (It’s also worth noting that “deleting” a post doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone forever—they could still be stored on the social media company’s servers, and potentially be retrieved.)
Instead, leave your social media accounts alone and call an experienced car accident attorney right away for advice about your case.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident in North Carolina and you have questions about how you should handle social media, or whether posts you’ve already created could cause trouble, the attorneys at Myers Law Firm can help. Give us a call for a free, no-risk consultation with an experienced attorney from our team right away.
Contact Myers Law Firm if You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Accident in North Carolina
At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the time after a serious car crash is often confusing, stressful, and scary. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll act as your advocate and use our legal experience and resources to fight relentlessly for you until your case reaches a resolution.
Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation with us. We’ll use this time to get to know you, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.