Trucking company lawyers will try to discredit your case using anything they can. That includes your social media posts.
Social media is almost impossible not to engage in today. Many people have a false sense of privacy and feel that their social media activity is off-limits when it comes to their truck accident case. But that's simply not true. Trucking company lawyers can, and will, go to any lengths possible to discredit your claim, and use your social media activities against you.
Questions answered on this page:
- What is good social media etiquette before you've been in an accident?
- What is good social media etiquette after you've been in an accident?
- How do I avoid social networking problems?
Once you file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries, your friends and acquaintances won't be the only people accessing your Facebook page. Lawyers and insurance adjusters for the trucking company will also seek out your page and go trolling for any evidence they can find to use against you, so that they can avoid paying you for your injuries.
Negative Effects of Social Networking Before you've Been in an Accident
According to recent studies on the subject, using a mobile electronic device while driving can be extremely hazardous to your ability to operate a moving vehicle. Checking your friends' Facebook updates or changing your status while you're in your car isn't illegal (yet), but it can assist insurance adjusters and trucking company defense lawyers in their attempts to put some of the blame on you for the semi-truck crash that caused your injuries.
Any changes you make on one of these social networking sites will be time-stamped with the exact moment you sent it. Consequently, if you were changing your status to "Driving down the turnpike - man traffic stinks," only seconds or minutes before the accident, then this could easily be used against you to show that you were distracted and therefore at least partially to blame for the wreck. But, you don't have to have been using social networking during the accident for the defendants to use it against you.
Negative Effects of Social Networking After You've Been in a Truck Accident:
The best advice that we can give you here at the Grossman Law Offices is: Treat your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as if nothing is private. You may have only shared that new picture of you partying in Las Vegas with a few close friends on Facebook, but the structure of Facebook's privacy settings mean they may be actually visible to many more people than you expect, including investigators for the insurance company.
Consider the following seemingly harmless scenario. You're driving down a major interstate in heavy traffic when you are rear-ended by an 18-wheeler. While waiting for the accident to get untangled, you tweet: "Just got into a wreck with an 18-wheeler. So thankful I'm OK." Then, the next morning your neck starts to stiffen, and you begin getting severe neck pain and headaches. You next go to the doctor and learn you have a slipped disk that will require expensive surgery, rehab, and missed work. When you go to file a personal injury claim against the trucking company, however, it's quickly denied when the defense brings in your tweet as evidence. While you were just informing your friends that you were thankfully not killed in the accident, you said in the tweet that you were "OK." Even seemingly harmless comments could bring great harm to your ability to pursue compensation.
Also, accident victims can make the mistake of not properly documenting any lapses in treatment in response to injuries they receive in truck accidents. Say you're injured in a truck accident one week but don't immediately feel the effects, so you don't go to the doctor until a week later. If you then post a Facebook update that you're going to the doctor to get your neck pain checked out a week and a half after the accident, you've just potentially given the defense evidence that you did not readily seek medical attention, potentially allowing your injuries to worsen or "failing to mitigate your damages," as the law puts it.
In addition to the aforementioned problems, the greatest social networking mistake that people make after being injured in trucking accidents comes from pictures and updates that are posted after the injury is suffered. If you're injured, then you shouldn't post anything potentially giving the impression that you're living life as you normally would have before the injury. For example, if you're allegedly hurt in an 18-wheeler accident on June 2, then you shouldn't post pictures of yourself water skiing on June 5. Nor, would you be helping your claim if you updated your Facebook status with, "Life is good! I feel great," when you claimed to have begun suffering severe, debilitating neck pain after being injured in an accident with a big rig.
Would the defendant's use of social media updates like this to undermine your case be absurd? Of course it would. However, the defendant's arguments don't have to be sensible in your mind. They just have to somehow cast doubt on your claim in the minds of the jury. Anything that damages your credibility, even slightly, could negatively affect the value of your case.
How you can Avoid Social Networking Problems After an 18-wheeler Accident
Here is a list of things you can do to avoid negatively affecting your personal injury claim with social networking blunders:
- Do not bring up your accident or subsequent medical treatment on any social networking site.
- Immediately after being injured in an 18-wheeler accident, set your profile to private and make sure all of your privacy settings are as strict as possible.
- Block any friends that you do not know very well. Defense lawyers may try to sneak onto your page as a friend to gather evidence against you.
- Be highly suspicious of any of your friends who seek to discuss details of your case with you via one of these social networking sites. If you want to talk about the issue with a friend, tell them to call you on the phone, where the record of the conversation isn't recorded to later be taken out of context. This also allows you to recognize your friend's voice and confirm it's actually him or her, whereas, a message from your friend over text or instant messenger could have actually been sent by anyone clever enough to hack their phone or account.
- Do not post any videos or pictures of yourself on any social networking site after the accident until your civil case is resolved. You don't want any physical activity you do to negatively color a jury's perceptions regarding the severity of your injuries.
- While it's too late to undo the past, we can't stress enough the importance of concentrating on driving when you're driving. Even when you're at a stoplight, a quick tweet could have far-reaching effects. You never know when fate is waiting to deal you a bad hand with a massive 18-wheeler accident around the next bend of the road. You won't be able to prove you were safely stopped at the light when the tweet was sent, but the defense attorney will be able to prove the tweet was sent only moments before the wreck.
If you've been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, and you're fearful of how your social media presence may affect your ability to pursue compensation, then call us today at Grossman Law Offices. We offer free consultations to all of our potential clients, so you will have the chance to discuss your case with experts familiar with how social media intersects with the law. We're here to help. (855) 326-0000 .
We've been litigating truck accident cases for 25 years. Over that time social media has exploded into a cornerstone of American culture. Being in business a quarter-century also means that we have had to evolve with the times and we're more than tech-savvy enough to stay ahead of the next trend.
Related Articles for Further Reading:
- What Are the First Steps You Should Take after a Commercial Truck Wreck?
- Special Considerations for Passengers Who Are Injured in an 18-Wheeler Crash
- Truck Accidents that Result In Brain Injuries Have to Handled Differently than other Injuries