Did you know that more than one billion people use Facebook and close to one billion use Twitter? That’s a huge chunk of the world’s population! Given the widespread use of social media, it is clear that social networking can have an impact on various aspects of our lives and plays a large role on how we portray ourselves. Many turn to social media for a host of activities, from discussing daily happenings to connecting with others. Yet, for individuals in the midst of a maritime accident claim, posting about their cases on Facebook or Twitter could have a serious negative impact on their case.
Due to the popularity and use of social media, defense lawyers and insurance companies are turning to sites like Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the individuals who are filing maritime accident and injury claims. If a victim posts images or messages that depict them having a good time and seemingly uninjured, it can will be used to try to discredited them, particularly if the victim is seeking damages for pain and suffering. While the basis of a claim revolves around a lot more than a social media post, a contradictory photo or message can potentially hurt a case and sway a jury’s opinion.
Furthermore, social media posts from friends and family can also have a negative effect on a case, particularly if claims made by family or friends contradict those made in court. Individuals should take the time to monitor comments that their loved ones are making and should always correct false or incorrect statements about a victim’s condition or accident.
So, what can victims do to protect themselves from social media backlash if they have a pending maritime case?
For one, the best advice our maritime lawyers can give is once you have suffered an accident, avoid social media altogether if you plan to bring a claim for your accident and while the case remains open and evidence is still being gathered monitor your account to make sure nothing is posted which might hurt your case. In general, any post you, your friends, or your family make can and will be used against you in court if the defense finds it useful.
Yet, for many, it can be difficult to stay away from social sites. If you do go on your social media account, try to limit your experience to just browsing and definitely refrain from posting about anything related to your case. Avoid posting any photos or videos and ask that friends and family avoid commenting on your health or your accident.
It is important that you carefully consider the implications that any social media post might have on your case. It can be difficult to monitor the potential fallout from each and every post you make, which is why we advise to stay away from social sites altogether. When in doubt as to what you can and cannot post, ask your lawyer for advice beforehand so you don’t have to worry about someone misconstruing a post after it’s already gone public.
Finally, it might also be a good idea to perform a Google search with your name. If you find any blog posts or photos that may hurt your case, speak to your attorney to see what can be done. Deleting the item may not be the best way to deal with it as in the discovery process, the defendant can get access to your accounting directly from the webhost and may find what you deleted and use the fact that you deleted against you.
After an accident in open waters or in port, managing your social media life properly can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.