Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler June 25, 2015

Social media may feel like your best friend, but if you are involved in a car accident it can become your worst enemy. Posts today can undercut your injury claim tomorrow. Indeed, social media impact can hurt your case.

Let’s say you were in a car accident and broke your leg. You post a photo of yourself on Facebook in a cast, but with a smile and a thumbs-up to show you’re getting better. Later you may post photos of yourself enjoying physical play or raking leaves despite the injury. You don’t want your friends and loved ones to worry about you, right?

Fast-forward to your injury lawsuit weeks or months later. A defense attorney shows a jury your dated social media posts after the accident and asks, “Does this look like someone who suffered? Does it look like someone who can’t work?”

Always assume that anything you post online will be monitored by an insurance company or defense attorney and used as evidence against your injury claim. In truth, how can they resist? As the American Bar Association puts it, social media is “an unrivaled source of evidence,” particularly in areas such as personal injury cases.

Social Media is Pervasive

As many misbehaving celebrities have learned, social media impact is pervasive, with posts available to virtually everyone. That means anything you post on social media — even if doesn’t go “viral” – has the potential to exist forever in the public record.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, personal blog posts, website reader comments or emails, posting anything on the Internet creates a potential liability which could come back to haunt you when your case goes to trial.

Attorneys for insurance companies or defendants know the drill: They thoroughly research your social media and online presence following an accident, trolling for evidence that can be used against you. Even if taken out of context or misconstrued, social media posts can be damaging to your case.

It’s vital that you refrain from posting anything on social media that may help opponents to minimize your claim. Insurance companies will even go so far as to use your social media activity to assert fraud or exaggeration on your part about an injury, or to suggest conflicting statements that undermine your case.

If you have suffered an injury following a car accident or work accident, always avoid giving your legal opponents any ammunition for such counterattacks.

To do this, you should abstain from your normal social media activities until you’ve consulted a car accident lawyer. Apart from finding the best legal representation, guarding against social media impact is among the key steps to take after a car accident.

How to Avoid Social Media Betrayals

So, how are you to avoid social media betrayals? The simplest solution is to place all of your social media accounts on hold until your case is settled. While this may sound extreme, it protects you against saying anything online which an insurance company could use to weaken your injury claim.

If you can’t bring yourself to pause your accounts, be extremely conscious about the content you post to social media. In fact, don’t post anything written or visual about your accident — anything.

That includes your physical or mental condition. Never minimize your pain, suffering or inconvenience just to make others feel better and worry less about you. Such reassurances, while well meaning, could bolster a defendant’s claim that your injury isn’t that severe and could compromise the settlement you are entitled to receive.

For example, even after posting something as seemingly harmless as a reassuring photo of yourself on Facebook and saying “I feel so much better” after your accident, a defense attorney may use that to argue that you weren’t badly injured and aren’t entitled to much money.

If you must maintain your social media activity, consider updating your privacy settings so that only pre-approved persons can view your posts. If someone you don’t know contacts you, ignore them or be wary of such contacts until your case is settled. Courts even have allowed defense attorneys to use fake accounts to gain access to a person’s online information.

Some might suggest you should delete anything on your social media that might be used against you. If you suffered a neck injury in a wreck, you wouldn’t want posts available from before the accident in which you complained of neck pain, right? Then your injury might be dismissed as pre-existing.

However, deleting any such posts would subvert your legal “duty to preserve” when it comes to evidence. “Counsel and client may be subject to sanctions for a failure to preserve relevant evidence,” the ABA says — including social media.

Also consider running an Internet search of your name just as the defense attorney would do — that is, “Google” yourself. If you see anything that might undercut your case, don’t try to remove it but be sure to alert your attorney.

Is Social Media Evidence Legal?

Now you may be wondering, is social media evidence legal? After all, isn’t much of what you write and show online personal?

In truth, social media evidence has repeatedly been deemed admissible in court cases, despite objections such as privacy claims, since social media itself provides no legitimate expectation of privacy. Objections also have been dismissed when claiming lack of authentication, since the truthful testimony of the person who made the post can cite its authenticity.

Even when the defendant denies authenticity, the court can rule otherwise. In 2012’s Tienda v. State, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals supported authentication of social media evidence in a case involving a shooting.

At trial, the state had presented printouts from a MySpace profile that implicated the defendant. An appeal was made on the basis that such evidence was not authentic, but the appeals court ruled that the state had “presented sufficient circumstantial evidence to authenticate the MySpace pages and postings as those of the defendant.” Thus, social media was evidentiary.

So consider anything online as fair game — even if it’s circumstantial — and don’t rely on privacy settings as a protection. As the ABA puts it, “social media content is subject to discovery, despite the privacy settings imposed by the account user.” In fact, password access to private accounts has been granted in some cases as an evidentiary measure.

Finally, be sure to ask your friends and family not to share any information about your condition, especially online. Comments about your injuries that your friends make on social media can be just as bad as if you’d posted them yourself, especially if they cite you as a source.

How to Replace Social Media

As for how to replace social media in your life if you’ve put them on hold for self-protective legal reasons, many means are available.

To connect with others, have you considered the old-fashioned but long-meaningful route of writing a letter or a note? Even better, you can call friends or loved ones to reassure them about your condition — or visit them in person.

Provided your personal letters and calls aren’t shared, that leaves no public record of your condition after being injured in a car crash — no record which could be misconstrued or used out of context to claim your injury wasn’t worth your claim.

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Testimonials

Erick Becker
Erick Becker
01:20 06 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.
Tierra Clark
Tierra Clark
18:52 19 May 17
My lawyer Bill Adler and case manager Iris Sanchez are amazing! They constantly call and check on you . They keep you up to date through the process. They care about you as a person and not just a client. The wreck was a life changing experience that I've never been through before. I'm just glad I had the right people like Bill Adler and Iris Sanchez to help me through it. Truly satisfied.Thanks and God bless y'all!
Lorenzo Preston
Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
Jim Adler only offer nothing less than a great experience. They are a very well-established organization. They are outstanding on keeping you up to date with cases. There's no beating around the bush with this organization as they are only straight forward with the whole process. They treat their customers like family as well as go above and beyond to fight cases for you only leaving you with nothing but the best experience. Easy 5-star rated organization. I would highly recommend this one organization you not look over.
Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I was dropped from a previous law firm regarding my case before I called Jim Adler. They immediately took up my case and worked hard on it - I was always up to date with each step they took and the benefits or consequences of each. In the end, I am highly satisfied with the outcome and would not have it any other way. It took some time but I truly appreciate and want to thank everybody who helped me on this journey and worked tirelessly on it.
Bernard Orozco
Bernard Orozco
17:16 23 Feb 17
I am very happy with Jim Adler & Associates. I did not know anyone who has ever used the Law Firm before. The staff is very friendly and treated me as if I were family. At times it got very stressful being without a job. They helped me when I was confused about the process. Mrs. Theresa Rodriguez stayed in contact with me constantly. Checking on me to see how I was doing and to let me know how things were going on there end. The Attorneys that handled my case know exactly what they are doing to take good care of me. Thank You so much Attorney's Mr.Michael Gomez and Mr.Trey Smith.
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