How Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

By Nicholas Strom

The world continues to become increasingly digital with more and more people having an online life, particularly when it comes to social media. Countless commentators discuss the benefits and downsides of social media and that is no different in the legal world. This post will explain how social media can affect an accident case and how I have seen social media used in litigation.

How do insurance companies use social media?

One of the first things an insurance company will do after you place a claim is perform an online search for you and if you have social media postings they will review them. The insurance company is trying to see what, if anything, you have posted about the accident. It is also gathering information about your lifestyle.

In litigation, statements made by one of the parties to the case can be used in the lawsuit. The insurance company is trying to see if you have said anything about the accident that may hurt your case, for instance if you said something about the other driver or if you downplayed any injuries.

The insurance company is also trying to see how you lived your life and what postings you had after the accident. If you went on a hike or ran a marathon immediately after the accident, the insurance company is not going to believe you were hurt in the accident.

In my practice, I have seen insurance companies bring up posts immediately after the accident to say my client was not hurt. However, while the posts were immediately after the accident, they were from events years in the past. My client was simply posting them because they were too injured to do anything, found the picture and wanted to share it. This can be explained to the insurance company, but it becomes a headache because additional evidence will be needed to prove that the event actually was in the past.

How should you approach social media after an injury?

I give the same advice regarding social media after an accident as I would for every other interaction one of my clients has. Do not post about the accident or your treatment. The insurance company will do anything it can to try and diminish the value of your case. If it can use your words against you it will. An admission by someone who is injured is a powerful tool to persuade a jury.

If you are going to post on social media after an accident, be mindful that the insurance company is almost certainly going to monitor what you post. As explained above, it is possible to explain posts that on their face look problematic. However, that will only increase the difficulty of your case and make settlement or a verdict more difficult.

What do you do if you posted something you regret?

Unfortunately, you will have to leave the post. Deleting the post may be deemed “spoilation of evidence.” Spoliation of evidence is destruction or alteration of evidence or the failure to preserve evidence for pending or foreseeable litigation. Put simply, it is trying to get rid of evidence that might hurt your case.

You cannot delete a potentially harmful social media post. A court may sanction you for doing so and if you do, Arizona has an instruction for jury’s that informs them they may view the evidence as harmful to your case. The instruction reads:

[Name of person who destroyed evidence] failed to preserve evidence regarding [describe unpreserved evidence] that [he] [she] [it] was required to preserve. Because [name of party] failed to preserve the evidence, you may, but are not required to, assume that the evidence would have been unfavorable to [name of party].

It is also worth noting that even if you delete a post, the insurance company can still find it. The insurance company can ask the court for a subpoena to obtain the original records from the social media company, so the potentially harmful post can still be discovered.

Honesty is the best policy in not only life but in litigation as well. Potential harmful posts should not be deleted given it is not the right thing to do and can ultimately harm your case.


While eliminating social media may not be possible, paying attention to what you post is crucial, not only for a personal injury case but for life in general. If you have a post related to litigation you regret, the best policy is to not remove it. Deleting a social media post could be seen as spoilation of evidence and get you in trouble with the court.

Fowler St. Clair handles personal injury cases and is here to help. If you have any questions about the legal process or think you may have a case, you can always reach out and one of our trusted team members can discuss your potential personal injury case free of charge.