If you are involved in an accident, posting about it on social media is one of the worst things you can do. Social media is such a normal part of our everyday lives now that most people think nothing of posting pictures, videos, and details about where they are and what they’re doing. If you’ve been involved in some kind of accident, it seems normal that you would want to post and let people know what happened, how you are doing, and other details about the event.

But did you know that everything you post on social media could potentially harm your case if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit?

Social Media as Evidence in a Personal Injury Case

Even if your profiles are private, everything you do and say on social media could be part of a personal injury lawsuit. Lawyers can request printouts of your social media activity as part of their evidence gathering during the discovery phase of a case. Defendants are allowed to collect unlimited amounts of information about you, including details that are not part of public records, such as your social media activity.

The best thing you can do after an accident is stop using social media completely until your lawsuit has concluded. However, personal injury cases can take several months, and many people are unwilling to stay completely off all forms of social media during that time. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or other forms of social media, everything you do on social media has the potential to impact your case.

You should be very careful about what you post online and limit your posts as much as possible while your personal injury lawsuit is happening. You also need to be mindful of how others mention you in their social media profiles—friends’ posts can also be part of the defense’s evidence.

Here are some examples of how your social media activity can be used as evidence against you in a personal injury case:

  • Pictures and video. Photographs and videos of you on social media can be used to show that you are happy and enjoying your life, not experiencing problems that you allege in your case. This can include photos you take of yourself as well as photos others may take of you. Untag yourself if you are tagged in photos and videos, and ask friends to stop posting about you and to take down photos or videos of you after your accident.
  • Activity. Posting about being out doing physical activity, exercising, attending concerts, movies, or other events can all be used by the other side to show that you are not experiencing the life-altering physical and mental challenges you are experiencing from the accident.
  • Language. Everything you say online about an accident could be used against you. Even if you think you are just being factual about what happened, the way you describe the details can be used against you, including about how you feel after an accident. It’s best not to post any details online about an accident.
  • History. Your social activity before your accident could potentially be used to show that you were participating in reckless, dangerous, or even illegal behavior before your accident. For example, if your social media showed you drinking alcohol in a bar and then you got into an accident later that night, this could be used against you to indicate you were impaired.

Private vs. Public Social Media

You may think that because your profile is private and has a limited audience, your social activity can’t be used against you. That would be wrong. Most people have connections or friends online that they don’t know personally. Any of these people could be providing information or posts from your social accounts to the opposition in your personal injury case. Don’t assume that everyone on your “friends list” is your friend. Be wary of any new requests to connect after an accident, and don’t post anything with a public audience.

Deleting your social profiles is also no guarantee these profiles can’t be used against you. This can be considered deleting or destroying evidence, which is a big no-no and can result in huge penalties.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help guide you on how to proceed after an accident, including what is and isn’t okay to talk about on social media. Our lawyers know the details of Virginia law and how to help you avoid hurting your case with social media activity after an accident.

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Working with Andrew and his team has been--without exception--one of the most pleasant, productive, and professional experiences of my adult life. I was seriously injured in an accident in July, 2018, in Virginia. I was driving a company vehicle that was registered in Maryland, for a company that was based in Wisconsin. And I live in New Jersey, where my personal vehicles are insured. The several jurisdictions involved presented a very unique case that demanded an experienced and nuanced strategy. I found Andrew Thomas (of Dulaney, Lauer, & Thomas) through some online research. And it is noteworthy that Andrew has worked the other side of the aisle--he used to work with insurance companies. Andrew took on my case with the assurance that he would work it with no less energy than he does each of his cases. At each turn, and with each question I had, Andrew and Paralegal Misty kept me informed, returned my calls, provided detailed explanations, and kept me feeling like I was in the loop and there was an eventual end to our journey. Nearly five years after the accident, we settled out of court for a significant sum in recognition of my personal injuries. The settlement was much more than I had expected. And without Andrew & Misty, I am sure the award would have been much less. If you are looking for professionalism, knowledge, dedication, answerability, responsiveness, integrity, and human-level communication from a personal injury attorney--look no further. You have found him. Thank you, Andrew and Misty. Gary Daley
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