Social Media and Your Bike Injury Case
Many people do not realize how commonly and effectively defense attorneys use information from social media to reduce the settlements that insurance companies have to pay out. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, there are a number of steps you should take to preserve the value of your case. Calling a bicycle accident attorney ASAP is important, since the sooner a personal injury attorney can start gathering evidence on your behalf, the better.
Proceed with Caution
Assessing what information you want to share on social media is also an important step to take after a bicycle accident. Despite how auto insurance companies like to portray themselves in their advertising, they exist to make money, not to help you out when you’re in a tough situation. Insurance companies work hard to reduce the settlements they pay out to injured parties.
Everything that you post, even if your account is set to private, may be subpoenaed and seen by the opposing attorney – or members of a jury deciding your case at trial.
In addition to being very careful about all comments, photos, and check-ins that you post, you can also ask your friends to not tag you in photos or check-ins, and be wary of any new friend requests from people you don’t personally know.
You should not, however, delete your accounts or posts, as doing so may constitute destruction of evidence relevant to your case.
How Your Posts May Be Used Against You
The most obvious example of how social media posts can be used against you is if you post photos or comments that directly contradict something that you later say in a lawsuit – for example, if you claim that you cannot play sports following a crash, and then post photos of yourself playing sports. Since most personal injury plaintiffs do not lie about the extent or impact of their injuries, this scenario is pretty rare.
The much more common scenario is that social media posts are used to dispute the emotional and mental suffering that a person goes through following a crash. It is natural for us to want to present ourselves on social media in a positive light. Even if we are feeling very depressed or anxious following a crash, we are not likely to share those experiences on social media.
Defense attorneys have effectively used photographs of people smiling – or even the number of smiling emoji that people post – as evidence that they were not suffering.
Your posts might be taken out of context to make you look dishonest. If you’re using social media to journal your injuries, you probably will have ups and downs. Some days might be really tough, while other days your injuries will be better.
The opposing counsel might pick only posts from days you’re feeling good to dispute the impacts of your injuries, and your lawyer may be limited in their ability to protect you. For instance, because of evidence rules, in a trial the opposing attorney would be able to present your social media posts under a “opposing party admission” exception to hearsay, while your own lawyer will have their hands tied by the hearsay rule and probably not be able to present your posts to the jury, for instance to provide context.
Furthermore, even information that is not relevant to your case, but which reflects on you, may bias jury members against you. (Members of a jury are not supposed to do their own research, which includes looking up social media information – but studies show that they commonly do.) Before you post anything, think about whether you would want potential jury members who are deciding whether you were at fault for the crash, and how much money you deserve as compensation, to see it.
Contact an Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyer
A good bicycle accident injury lawyer will make sure you protect your rights and get the compensation you’re entitled to. Bay Area Bicycle Law, P.C. is the only law firm in Northern California that exclusively specializes in bicycle crash cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us handle the legal work so you can focus on your recovery.