Can Social Media Be Used Against You in a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York?

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    If you were injured and are considering filing a lawsuit, everything you post on social media could become scrutinized.  Lawyers often caution their clients against discussing their pending cases with anyone, especially other users on social media, and here’s why.

    Any statements you make are usually allowed in as evidence the opposing side can use in your case.  That means that if you post pictures of you skiing when you are claiming you were laid up with serious injuries, they can use that to counter your claim.  They can also use your specific words against you, such as inconsistent descriptions of the crash.

    Call our New York car accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm by dialing (718) 841-0083 right away if you’ve been injured in a crash.

    How Insurance Companies and Defendants Can Use Your Social Media Posts in New York Car Accident Cases

    People often think of discussions on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter/X to be casual, low-stakes discussions.  Posting photos on Instagram might feel like you are sharing with your friends, but anyone who can see your posts could potentially use them against you in a relevant court case.  When you are suing or filing an insurance claim for a car accident case, you should shut down your social media or leave off any communications about the crash or your health, as they can be used against you in the following ways:

    Using Photos to Prove Your Condition

    If you are claiming that you were injured or that your car was damaged, and you post photos that contradict this, the defense could use them against you.  Having a photo of you skiing or playing tennis when you are claiming that your injuries prevent you from doing so would be an immediate black mark against you in your case.

    Our Queens car accident lawyers often recommend that people stop posting photos of themselves while their cases are pending.  Even if you post an old picture, the defense might try to claim it was a current picture, and it will take more effort to disprove this, distracting from the main point of your case: your injuries.

    Using Statements of Fault

    If you say anything to a loved one or make an online post about who caused your accident, the defense can use that statement as though it was a truthful admission.  A statement like, “I hit another car,” could be entered into evidence as an admission that the crash was your fault.

    Also be careful about publicly blaming the accident on others.  If you posted on the day of the accident that the crash was caused by one driver, but you didn’t find out until the next day that it was actually a different driver, then the defendant could try to push blame on the other driver by using your statements as evidence.

    Inconsistent Statements

    When you have a pending injury case, you will make statements to insurance companies, give depositions, and testify on the stand at your trial.  The law allows attorneys to “impeach” witnesses by pointing out evidence that shows they might be lying or misremembering what happened.  With all of these statements involved in your case, inconsistencies between statements are common ways to challenge a witness’s memory or truthfulness.

    If you have social media posts that give a different account of events than what you shared, the defense can use them against you to show you are lying or that you can’t accurately remember what happened.  This is why it is important not to discuss the case with anyone outside of your legal team: your friend could be called to the stand to relay your previous story, or that person at the bar listening to your story could be an investigator hired by the defense.  On social media, anyone could be listening.

    Are Social Media Posts Hearsay for Car Accident Cases in NY?

    Hearsay is a common legal word that people use, sometimes without knowing the actual definition.  People often use the term to say that information is unreliable or that it shouldn’t be taken as true, but what it actually refers to is statements made outside of the courtroom that are offered to prove the truth of what the statement asserts.  For example, if you have a social media post where you said that the defendant, “…hit me with their car and drove off!” it would be hearsay if it was used to prove that the defendant did indeed hit you and did indeed drive away.

    However, New York’s Rules of Evidence, and most rules of evidence, create an exception that allows statements by the other party to be used if they cut against their claim.  So, while social media posts are indeed hearsay, they are admissible anyway.

    Photos are not words, so they are not legally considered “statements.”  That means any photos you post can be used without any hearsay analysis; they just need to be relevant to be used against you.

    Can Insurance Companies and Defense Attorneys Access My Social Media Posts for a New York Car Accident Case?

    If you don’t want your posts to be used against you, you might think it’s simple enough to just lock your account or block the defendant and their lawyers from accessing your social media.  While circumventing a block on social media might violate its terms of service, it might not prevent lawyers, defendants, or insurance companies from accessing your posts anyway.

    It is possible for parties to follow your profile under a fake name or to have an investigator contact someone who already follows you and ask them to screenshot or print out your posts.  This could allow them to access your info even if they are blocked.  Additionally, some archiving websites might have copies of your old posts, even if you deleted them from the current version of the site.

    Call Our New York Car Accident Lawyers Today

    For a free case review, call the Hempstead car accident attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083.