Car accidents can be scary, stressful, and even traumatic events. With the proliferation of social media, it can feel natural to immediately pull out your phone to update your friends and family across all social media networks – whether it’s a post on Facebook, a story on Instagram, or a video on TikTok. After all, we’ve been conditioned and encouraged to share all aspects of our lives on social media: from graduations and births to what we ate for dinner last night. A major event like a car accident should be no different, right?
The short answer is no: avoid posting anything to social media regarding the car accident or following the car accident.
Your Post is Forever
Your post may contain admissions of guilt or photographic or video evidence that would lead an insurance company to believe that you are at-fault in an accident. Even if you’re intimately familiar with the “edit” and “delete” buttons, those buttons only function at the superficial level for your social media feed. In actuality, the data used to create and generate your post is preserved as metadata (think of this as the data about the data). When you go to edit your post, the original metadata is not erased. Instead, your edited post is saved as a unique set of its own data.
Similarly, when you delete a post, you are only deleting it from your social media feed. The data is still preserved on servers related to that social media network. So, even if your post history is private or inaccessible to others, your post history can still be obtained with the proper permit.
Up for Interpretation
Your (seemingly innocuous) social media post can be misconstrued or taken out of context. For example, imagine someone jumping onto Instagram to vent their frustrations about a very recent car accident – recent enough that they only just got back to their car after obtaining everyone’s information and filing a police report. “Don’t worry,” the person in the video says “no one got hurt, I’m fine, I think, everything is fine.”
A statement like this is often meant to provide comfort to or alleviate the anxieties of our friends and loved ones. To a lawyer or an insurance claim adjuster, this is evidence. By saying that no one was hurt and that you are fine, it might prohibit any subsequent claims that you make for injuries that did occur in the car accident but that you were not aware of at that time. Even if those claims aren’t prohibited, they can be significantly undermined because the impression those statements create is that the injury wasn’t that bad.
Now imagine that the person in the Instagram story goes on to recollect how the events happened from their perspective. “The baby was screaming, and my phone was buzzing, and I checked the rear-view mirror for just a second and the other car just came out of nowhere!”
To a layperson, these sound like statements of fact. To lawyers, this can appear to be an admission of distracted driving (in that the baby screaming and the phone buzzing prevented the driver from paying attention to the road and seeing the vehicle, since cars obviously don’t manifest out of thin air). There is only one way to prevent your post from being misinterpreted, misconstrued, or taken out of context: if it never existed in the first place.
The Evidence is Out of Your Hands
Any photos, videos, statements, comments, or reactions made online can be used as evidence. This evidence can be used by any party associated with the case. More importantly, that evidence isn’t limited to statements you make about your car accidents.
Suppose you incurred some injuries from the car crash and are looking to be compensated for your medical bills. That’s not unreasonable – but insurance claims adjusters will be looking for evidence that may indicate that you could be exaggerating your injuries. If you have social media posts after your car accident that showcase a hiking trip with friends or dancing at a nightclub, it may seem to everyone that your life is proceeding normally just as it was before your car accident. It may also lead attorneys or claims adjusters to argue that your injuries are not severe enough to warrant the compensation you are looking for.
Just because you’re not posting does not mean that you shouldn’t be closely monitoring your social media posts. Your friends and family may be tagging you in potentially implicating photos, videos, or other posts – which may also be used against you to undermine your claims. Consider asking your friends and family members to not post anything on social media about the car accident or about yourself, and to refrain from tagging you on social media.
Your best bet is to keep your social media posting to an absolute minimum – and maybe instead, try keeping in touch with friends via Facetime, texting, or (most ideally) connecting in-person. No matter how tempting it is to share to your online network, don’t let your social media posts damage or discredit your legitimate and well-founded legal case.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
After any car accident, you should speak to an attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of your unique situation. If you have been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The attorneys at Vititoe Law Group have experience in litigation related to car accidents, personal injury, and more. They are ready to talk with you free of charge, so don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation today!