In this age of social media, when most people have smart phones and accounts on multiple online social platforms, it is common for individuals involved in accidents to post status updates and photographs about what has happened to them. Our accident attorneys understand that it has become second nature for many, especially young people, to share every moment of their day online, without thought of how far their information and photographs may spread. If you are involved in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or any situation that results in a personal injury, this is a very bad idea; it could cause you to lose compensation you deserve for your injuries, even if someone else was at fault.
You Never Know How Far a Tweet or Status Update Will Spread
Social networks are a powerful method for disseminating information – sometimes when you don’t even realize you are doing it. For example, during the recent Academy Awards ceremony, a “selfie” posted by host Ellen Degeneres – of herself with a number of other attending celebrities – became the most shared photo ever on social media site Twitter. The record breaking “selfie” was re-tweeted so many times that Twitter crashed. See Ellen’s tweet here.
Facebook Post Results in Loss of $80,000 Settlement
While the viral spread of Ellen’s “selfie” did no damage, another post – this time on Facebook – had a much more damaging effect. Patrick Snay, former headmaster of Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, sued his employer for age discrimination, winning an $80,000 settlement. This settlement was subject to a confidentiality clause. Following the decision, Snay breached confidentiality by telling his daughter about the award, and she then posted a status on Facebook, saying, “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” When lawyers for Gulliver Prep proved in court that current and former Gulliver students had viewed that damning status update, Snay lost the entire $80,000 settlement amount.
Think Twice Before You Post
Information and photographs shared on social media platforms have great potential to go public, even when you attempt to control it with privacy settings. Once an image gets past privacy settings and hits the internet, it can spread like wildfire, becoming accessible to almost anyone who knows how to Google your name. If all you share is cute kitty pictures and re-posts of “First World Problems” memes, the potential for your post to “leak” is not likely to cause you grief; but many people share far more personal information in their Facebook status updates, tweets, Instagram photos and Vine videos, unaware that such sharing could negatively impact the outcome of their legal case.
While it is common knowledge that you should not verbally admit fault at the scene of an accident, many people think nothing of telling Facebook friends that they had a drink before heading home, their car had been acting up or even downplaying the accident and making light of it for a few laughs among friends. If you post any photographs or details of the time leading up to, during, or immediately following an accident or injury, your posts and photographs could end up in the hands of the other party’s lawyers or the insurance company – and could be used as evidence against you. Even if your privacy settings keep your posts from getting out to the general online public, a judge might order you to allow social media sites to release information deemed relevant to your case.
Your best approach to social media following an accident is to say or share only information and pictures that you would be willing to hand to the attorney for the other party. The risk of an unintended disclosure that could harm your case is too significant to ignore.