Social media has become a significant part of our day-to-day lives. Most people have at least one social media account, if not more.
You may post daily updates or about important life events. However, when it comes to injuries you suffered in an accident, you need to think twice before posting. Online information can be used as evidence in your case. Also, it has the potential to negatively affect your personal injury case.
Insurance Companies Search social media
Car wrecks can be traumatic and filled with frustration. The more serious the injury, the more likely it is that the adjuster will be friendly. However, the intention is always to pay as little as possible to settle a claim.
Ways in Which Social Media Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case
Tactics of Adjusters
One of the tactics includes sending investigators out to videotape the plaintiff after the wreck.
Another tactic is to monitor the social media of the injured person. Similarly, this is an attempt to get evidence that may make the injured person look like they were faking, or it wasn’t that bad. This tactic is especially dangerous because it is a cheap investigation technique but they rely.
Your social media posts may seem insignificant or harmless to you. However, insurance defense attorneys have learned that even innocent posts can be devastating to a claim. The biggest risk is that your own content will contradict the claims you make in your case. Your posts may prove you have different physical capabilities than you claim to the insurer or in court.
You may have undergone profound pain and suffering during your recovery. However, your photos may show you smiling, vacationing, hanging out with friends, or traveling. Your online activity may cause jurors or adjusters to doubt you are in as much pain. Additionally, they can presume that you are leading an active and full life, despite your alleged suffering.
Another risk is that your social media content will show that there may have been an intervening cause for your injuries. or for why your condition has gotten worse. An intervening cause is another factor that occurred after the original incident. The other party can use it to say they are not responsible for your current condition. The at-fault party and their insurer can use this to claim they do not owe you compensation or that they owe you far less than you demand.
The More Serious Your Injury the More You Need an Attorney
The general rule is the more serious the accident the more likely one is to need representation. Insurance companies have tactics that they use to defend their policies and to pay pennies on the dollar if they are able.
Defense Lawyers Search Online
It is standard now for defendants in car crash cases to ask for social media profiles and posts in discovery. Recent case law is made clear that requests for social media profiles such as Facebook are subject to the general rules applicable to discovery. That is the request for such information must be reasonable in time and scope and must be relevant to the subject matter of the lawsuit.
Whether or not a defendant can obtain access to Facebook or other social media posts depends upon the specific request. It must be relevant to the lawsuit in question. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, your posts could be evidence.
Even Innocent Posts can Hurt Your Case
It is quite easy to see how Facebook posts or other social media postings could be taken out of context. Not many people would be interested in your social media if all you did is whine and cry about your injuries. If you are like most people and try to move forward with your life, even though you’re injured, your posts online may give the wrong impression. This can hurt your case.
Potential Consequences of Contradictory Social Media Content
If your social media content contradicts your legal claims, various things can happen. The other party can use this as evidence when asking for the case to be dismissed. The insurer may use it to deny your claim.
If the online content is not enough for an insurance claim denial or lawsuit dismissal, it can still be used to weaken your case. This will limit your financial recovery. For example, if your photos and statuses show that you are not in as much pain as you say, this can lead to a lower insurance settlement or court award.
The at-fault party and their insurer may also use your social media content to support allegations of comparative negligence. They may argue that the evidence proves you were also careless and therefore partly responsible for your own injuries. If an insurer or court agrees, this can significantly decrease your compensation.
Be Careful What You Post and Change Privacy Settings
Aside from being very careful about what you post, consider changing your privacy options. Limit those who can see your posting to immediate friends. However, this will not stop a defendant from asking for your social media information in discovery. But, it should prevent them from obtaining it without going through the discovery process.
Social Media Best Practices During Your Personal Injury Case
If you are injured in an accident and are a social media user, talk with your lawyer about how to handle your accounts during your claim.
Your attorney may recommend that you:
- Do not post anything about being in an accident.
- Tighten your privacy settings to allow only your contacts to see your content
- Do not post any photos or videos of the incident or your injuries.
- Ask friends and family members to keep their questions and comments offline.
- Do not post any content that reflects your physical or mental condition.
- Ask friends and family members to not tag you in posts
- Do not post about the insurance claim or lawsuit.
- If you receive a friend or follow request, do not accept it from anyone you do not know well.
- Do not delete anything without speaking to your personal injury attorney first.
If You Post It, They will ask about it
The general rule is if you put it out online you may see it again in court. This is especially true if you’re a personal injury victim seeking compensation for your injuries.
The best approach is to recognize that what you post may well be evidence in your case. Be very cautious in your social media postings.