Whenever the subject of social media comes up in relation to vehicle accidents, it's usually in a negative context. According to a national survey in 2013, 24 percent of respondents admitted to using the internet while driving. With distracted driving contributing to over 431,000 vehicle injuries and deaths in 2014, it's understandable why some people may have a negative reaction when you mention social media and car accidents in the same breath. However, social media can actually be very helpful when it comes to winning an accident lawsuit. Here are three ways you can use sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses.
Find Video Evidence
The proliferation of smartphones and the high-quality cameras they contain have given rise to what The New Yorker and others have dubbed Little Brother, where ordinary citizens manage to capture important events and share them with the public at large. Coupled with omnipresent surveillance from other sources, such as government agencies and local businesses, there's a good chance the accident you were involved in was caught on tape.
Since video can be immensely helpful in proving liability for a collision, it's worth the effort to search sites like YouTube, LiveLeak, MetaCafe, and other video sharing sites to determine if someone recorded the incident. In a culture where people do the craziest things for likes and shares, you can be sure that if someone taped an accident, he or she would upload the video to the internet for others to view.
The challenge comes in sifting through the millions of uploaded videos to find what you're looking for. Good keywords to use in the search bar would be the name of the road you were traveling, the type of vehicles you and the other party were driving, and the names of any nearby businesses. Sorting video uploads by date, if possible, can also be helpful in finding recordings posted to the net around the time the incident occurred. Enlist the help of friends or family members to search, or use a crowdsourcing site like Fiverr or Upwork to pay someone to assist you with this task.
Another thing social media is particularly good at is helping people find each other. For instance, one woman found her biological mother on Facebook after 15 minutes of searching. However, social media sites can be used to locate people who may have witnessed the accident also.
Social media makes it easy for people to share their experiences, and it's highly likely that someone who witnessed an accident may post about it on their Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feeds. Like with the videos, you can do a search on these sites for certain keywords related to the incident, such as the road name or name of the area police.
An alternative option is to post a request on social media sites for witnesses to come forward to testify and have your followers help you spread the message as far as possible. Include pertinent information like the date, time, and location of the accident and who to contact (e.g. your attorney). If you're lucky, your story may get picked up by a news organization, which will help spread your request even further. Just be sure to talk to your attorney first to avoid saying anything that may hurt your case.
Obtain Incriminating Evidence
A third way social media can be useful in a car accident lawsuit is it can provide you with evidence that may be used against the defendant. Many lawyers advise clients to avoid discussing their cases online and for good reason. Anything you write online can be subpoenaed by the opposing party and submitted as evidence in court. However, people ignore this advice and post incriminating stuff online all the time, and you can use this to your advantage.
Since you have the other party's name, look him or her up on popular social sites and view the profile for information that may help you prove fault. For instance, if the person has pictures of them drinking alcohol the day the accident occurred, you could use this to show the court he or she may have been driving intoxicated.
Social media can be an incredible asset to you in your accident lawsuit. Work with an attorney who can help you maximize this resource to your benefit.