Read this article BEFORE you are in an accident!
After a car accident, you are understandably upset and confused. Everything seems to happen so quickly, you feel as if you don’t have time to think. Having some information before you find yourself in such a predicament can help avoid a lot of problems later. After an accident, everyone will be looking for evidence to prove who was at fault. Increasingly, investigators, the police, insurance adjustors, and Colorado car accident attorneys will be searching for evidence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets. This evidence may be used to help you, and can also be used to harm you.We are so used to sharing our lives on social media that we sometimes forget that the information we share is there forever, even after a post is taken down. You may think you have removed that embarrassing Instagram photo, but you do not know how many times that photo was copied, downloaded, or shared before you removed it. Even posts in which you are tagged by others can come back to haunt you.The law regarding privacy rights and social media has been pretty well established by the courts–because of the inherently public nature of social media, we have a very limited expectation of privacy in what we post. Even a post that has been shared only with friends can be discovered in a civil or criminal case because we can reasonably assume that any post we share with a friend may be re-posted to the general public.
SOCIAL MEDIA EVIDENCE PRIOR TO A COLORADO SPRINGS ACCIDENT
Whether you find yourself as the injured party or the defendant in a car accident case, your social media activity leading up to the accident can affect your case. Fortunately, the same is true for the other party, and your car accident attorney will be looking at their activity also. Some examples of social media activity that might have an impact on the outcome of a lawsuit after an accident:
- One of the drivers’ posts pictures of herself and her friends at several bars in the hours before the accident. While a picture alone is not proof that the driver was intoxicated, it will raise a lot of questions.
- The driver of one of the vehicles tweets, “I am so drunk right now!” a few minutes before being involved in a crash.
- A friend of one of the drivers tags him on a Facebook post showing a group of friends smoking marijuana. Smoking marijuana is legal in Colorado, but driving while impaired is not.
- A YouTube video is uploaded in which the driver is obviously slurring his speech and showing other signs of intoxication.
- The driver posts selfies of herself and her friends in which they are obviously in the car. Time stamps on the photos show that they were taken within minutes of the accident.
- A hit-and-run driver “checks in” on Facebook to a location in the vicinity of the accident.
SOCIAL MEDIA AFTER AN ACCIDENT
If you are injured in an accident, the value of your case depends on the nature and extent of your injuries. Insurance adjusters and attorneys will be looking for evidence that will reduce the insurer’s liability. Anything you post on social media, and anything posted by your friends in which you are tagged, can be used to hurt your case.
If you are claiming physical and/or emotional injury, seemingly harmless posts can be used to suggest that your injuries are not as severe as you claim they are. Even something as innocuous as a photo of yourself at a friend’s birthday party may lead to accusations that your emotional state is not as you reported. Likewise, a photo of you river-rafting after the accident would obviously be used to show you were not in as much pain as you claimed to be. A photo will not necessarily show the physical pain you may be in, or the emotional pain you are trying to hide for the sake of your loved ones.
HOW TO AVOID THE DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN AN ACCIDENT CASE
None of us know when an accident is going to happen, so we can’t anticipate when a post might turn into evidence. We should always be mindful of what we post, and understand that everything, even after be think we have removed it, is permanent. Before posting, ask yourself if you’d be fine seeing that post show up as an exhibit at trial.
After an accident, there are some precautions that will lessen the chance of your social media posts being used against you. Here are some suggestions:
- Never admit fault, or make any statement that might be interpreted as an admission of fault, on social media.
- Temporarily suspend your social media presence altogether. This is the safest, but most difficult option. If you cannot stay away from social media, try to limit your presence.
- Change your settings from “public” to just your friends. Be aware, though, that you cannot control what your friends decide to share.
- Control who can tag you on their own Facebook posts.
- Ignore friend requests from people you do not know. Sometimes investigators will use this as a way to obtain information about you.
- Always be mindful when you post, and consider the ways in which your post might be misinterpreted. Consider that your post may be seen by people who do not have your best interests in mind.
- Make sure your attorney is aware of any posts made prior to an accident that might affect you, positively or negatively.
- If you are pursuing a personal injury claim after an accident, make sure that your attorney is aware of your social media presence.
Always consult an experienced car accident law firm before making any statements or dealing with an insurance company. The experts at Springs Law Group offer free consultations and will give you the answers you are looking for.