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

Car accident cases have a lot of different types of evidence involved.  From photos to witness statements to hospital records, you will introduce a lot of information as part of your claim, and the defense will often combat this evidence.  One piece of evidence you might be surprised to see turn up in your case is your social media posts.

In many cases, your Massachusetts car accident case could be hurt by social medial posts entered as evidence against you.  Defense lawyers can use what you say online to undercut your claims about who caused the crash, how severe your injuries are, and more.  They can also use photos as evidence that your injuries might have been an exaggeration.  How they get this evidence might surprise you.

For a free evaluation after your car crash, call the Massachusetts personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407.

How Do Lawyers and Insurance Companies Get My Social Media Posts for Car Accident Cases

Before we get into how they can use the social media posts against you, our Boston car accident lawyers will first go into how lawyers and insurance companies get your posts in the first place.  If you set your accounts to private or block users, you might think you are safe from having your posts accessed, but this is not always the case.

Insurance companies and attorneys can sometimes use tricky or even downright deceitful tactics that are nonetheless legal to get information to use against you in a lawsuit.  Hiring personal investigators is a common practice, and you honestly never can tell if the person you are talking to in line at the supermarket is just some person or is a PI hired to follow you around and talk to you about your case.  The same is even more true online where anonymous identities are used all the time.

It is possible that someone who follows you could be a fake name for a PI – or even the investigator using their real name!  It is also possible that investigators might speak with people you are friends with or message followers asking them for screenshots of your posts.  As long as these posts aren’t doctored, it might not matter to the court how they were obtained, and they might be admissible as evidence against you.

Because anyone could potentially turn your posts over to the defense and their representatives, it is usually best to stop posting altogether while your case is pending.

How Do Lawyers and Insurance Companies Use Social Media Posts in Massachusetts Car Accident Cases?

Social media posts can take the form of text, photos, or videos.  This gives defense lawyers a broad array of evidence, from statements to visuals they can show the jury.  Often, they will use this evidence for four major purposes to undercut your car accident case:

Posts as Evidence of Fault

If you have a statement out there that says who is at fault, the defense could potentially use it as evidence that that person is indeed at fault.  A statement made outside the courtroom used as proof that the statement’s claim is true is known as “hearsay,” but Massachusetts Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(A) carves out statements made by an opposing party from counting as hearsay.  As such, if you said something and it’s written down or recorded somewhere, the defense can enter that statement as evidence in court.

If you have a social media post where you admit fault or say that a different person caused the crash, then the defense can enter that into evidence.  In that case, the jury can weigh its validity against what you are saying today in court.

Posts as Prior Inconsistencies

If a witness makes a statement on the stand, the defense is allowed to “impeach” them by providing evidence that what they said might not be true.  For example, if a witness was paid for their testimony, the lawyer can ask about that and later argue to the jury that paying them gives them motive to say whatever the payor wants them to.

One of the most common ways to impeach a witness is with a prior statement they made that is inconsistent.  For example, if a doctor testified in a deposition that the victim faced 12 weeks of rehab and then says on the stand at trial that it was 14 weeks, the lawyer can pull out the deposition and confront them with their prior statement about it being 12 weeks.

Social media posts can be used the same way.  If you said on the day of the accident that you were hit by a car at noon, but you say in court that the accident happened at 11:00, the lawyers can use this to call your truthfulness or memory into question.  Posts about more important statements – such as your recitation of the events in the crash – could be more damaging if they are inconsistent with what you say in court.

Posts Challenging Claims

If you say anything on social media that might contradict your claim, it can hurt your case.  Defense lawyers and insurance companies can introduce statements you make or posts about your activities that might indicate your injuries are not as bad as they seem.  For example, if you are claiming you’ve been out of work because of the injury, but you post about a hard day at work, that undermines your claim for damages and potentially paints you as a liar.

Photos to Challenge Claims

Photos have no statements in them and can usually be introduced so long as they accurately depict what is shown.  As an example, if you or other users posted photos showing you without a cast, but you show up to court with a cast on your leg, it will highly undermine your claim that you were injured.  Even something as simple as a picture of you biking or dancing might cut against the claim that your injury is severe.

Call Our Car Accident Lawyers in Massachusetts for Help

If you were hurt in a crash, call the Wakefield car accident lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today by dialing (617) 925-6407.