More than half (56 percent) of Americans have a profile on a social networking site, a trend that is expected to continue upwards. About one-fifth of people in the U.S. use social networking sites several times a day, and that number continues to climb as mobile devices grow even more popular. While social networking sites have many benefits and connect you to people in new ways, they also can have a major negative impact on your personal injury claim—if used incorrectly.
Posting on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets can be dangerous in the following ways:
Disclosing confidential terms of settlement is a major danger of posting on social media. Many settlement agreements come with a non-disclosure clause, which makes it a violation to disclose any information about the settlement amount or the other party involved. For example, say you go through settlement negotiations and end up with a settlement of $500,000. Later that day, you tweet a photo of yourself with the caption “$500,000 richer today! Justice was served!” The other party’s attorney could argue that you breached the non-disclosure agreement by sharing the amount of the settlement with the world at large.
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Revealing incriminating evidence is all too easy when you use Facebook and Twitter to post photos. For example, say you suffered a major car accident and are suing the other driver, who was texting at the wheel at the time of the accident. You suffered several bone fractures and other ongoing health issues, adding up to $500,000 in medical bills (and even more in pain and suffering and lost wages). Part of your case is dependent on the fact that this accident is preventing you from doing normal day-to-day activities you used to enjoy. However, if post a picture of your yard on Facebook with the caption “So glad to be back out in my garden! What a beautiful day!” then things could go south. The negligent party’s attorney could argue that you were clearly well enough to engage in normal activities, such as gardening, as evidenced by your own Facebook post. Using this, the attorney can poke holes in your argument that you are too injured to work or live life normally.
Threatening the other party via social media can mean the end of settlement negotiations. Bad-mouthing or taking potshots at the other party may not be technically illegal, but it can make settlement discussions very difficult and uncomfortable from that point forward. Plus, it can increase your chances of having to go to trial to sort out the injury claim, which is a much more expensive and unpredictable way to handle your claim. This could include sending threatening messages on Facebook, tweeting threatening messages on Twitter, or using other social media sites to intimidate the other party.