If you actively use social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even Snap Chat, you must be extra careful about what you post on those sites – and what your friends post about you too. It is best to ask your injury attorney what information you can and cannot post on these sites. Some attorneys have a strict rule of no posting whatsoever during a case, while others provide you with specific guidelines and best practices so that you do not accidentally jeopardize your case over a single social media status update.
Yes, they can.
In fact, case law backs up the use of personal social media accounts, making it even more critical that victims understand how to use these websites properly to protect their case.
Courts have allowed the use of statements, pictures, and other items from social media because social media is highly influential. In fact, social media profiles are considered a source for information on a victim – such as what they are doing while recovering from injuries.
Before you make your next post, you need to know how social media can affect your case.
Personal injury cases involve some type of insurance company. Insurance companies have one primary goal in your case: to minimize how much they pay you. After all, they are a business and they want to protect their profits just like any business would. They will use what they can to say your injuries are not as severe as you claim, and one of their primary investigative tools is your social media sites.
When you post information that contradicts statements about your injuries, the insurance company will use it against you. For example, you claim that you have a debilitating back injury that prevents you from enjoying life but then have a picture posted of you at a friend’s house helping them move. Anything you post can be used and twisted against you – including old photographs.
You might have your profile set to private. If you do not, now is the time to do so. All the information you post on social media is public information; the courts do not see it as an invasion of privacy. Therefore, do not think you can argue against their using your profile.
Anything you or your friends post to your site is potential evidence. Even if you have the privacy settings engaged, there are ways for insurance claims adjusters and defense investigators to find out what is on your profile. They will see what you post, what you share, groups you are with, and possibly access your account through social media friends. Some investigators stoop low enough to make fake profiles and get you to add them so that they can see what you are posting.
Once the insurance company sees the posts you are tagged in, they do not need permission to use that information against you.
Furthermore, if the insurance company cannot access the information themselves through the ideas mentioned above, they can request your social media profiles through discovery. That means your attorney would have to hand over access so that they can look for evidence.
Bottom line, if the insurance company wants to use your profile against you, they will find a way.
Ideally, you should refrain from using all social media sites. If you use them anyway, then know the risks of doing so.
If you are going to use social media during your case, then you need to do so carefully. You know what social media sites the insurance companies love to monitor, and you should know how to properly use them so that you do not hinder your case.
Always consider what you post and think about how many people have the potential to read what you posted. Also, could that information be used against you negatively? How could it be perceived?
When using social media, use the following steps to prevent your claim from being negatively impacted by what you post:
No one on your social media sites should even know you are in the middle of a lawsuit or you have filed an injury claim. There should be no details of the accident, injuries, and even recovery amounts if you succeed with your case. Avoid posting information about the accident on personal blog websites too, because these are one of the first areas an investigator will check.
Make sure no one posts comments or uploads photos about the case to your social media sites. If they do, request that they remove it. Warn friends and family about the privacy issues and make sure they do not post anything on your social media profile during your case.
Remove anything that could affect your case. For example, past comments about suffering from a headache that day or back pain before the accident. The insurance company will try to twist these ordinary everyday complaints into a pre-existing condition and try to say that the symptoms you suffer from now are part of that and not caused by the accident.
Have you ever wondered how much information is out there about you on the internet? The best way to find out is to Google search your name, including nicknames. The insurance company will do the same. Therefore, get ahead of them by knowing what is out there already.
Social media websites are required to provide privacy policies for their users and enhanced privacy settings. Maximize yours so that only people on your friends list have access to your sites. Furthermore, do not add any new friends, including people you might know, during the case. You never know if these are hacked profiles or fake profiles set up by investigators to lure you into giving them access to your account.
While no one can promise that these steps will protect you, using these tips will help limit the opportunities the insurance company has to argue against your claim. It is best to have an accident attorney guide you through the proper use of social media, and what you can do to clean up past postings so that you do not feed evidence to the insurance company.
If you have questions about social media or your potential accident case, it is best to meet with an attorney for a no-obligation, car accident evaluation.