With over 3.6 billion users, it seems that nearly everyone is on social media in some form or another. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and families, promote businesses, and to share everything that’s going on in your life. So, it makes sense that if you’re involved in an accident, you would want to provide your “followers” updates on such a major life event, but many people don’t realize that social media can actually damage a personal injury claim or case. At Lyding Personal Injury, Mike Lyding has been fighting for personal injury victims in the Phoenix area for decades, and in recent years, he has seen insurance companies attempt to use a victim’s social media against them. So, before you hit “send” on that post following your accident, here’s what you should know about how social media can hurt your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
First, Surveillance Isn’t a New Tactic
First of all, as a personal injury victim, you should understand that insurance companies and defense lawyers have been trying to dig up dirt on plaintiffs well before social media. It seems like something out of a fiction novel or movie, but it’s true that insurance companies and defense lawyers have used shady surveillance techniques for decades to try to get claims and cases dismissed, or to sway judges and juries in their favor. It certainly doesn’t seem right that an insurance company or opposing counsel can essentially spy on someone who was injured in an accident by someone else, but the law does allow it to happen! Insurance companies can legally record video, record audio, and take still photographs of an injured person in a public setting, such as dining out, walking around the neighborhood, or even at work in a public place!
How Social Media Can Damage Your Personal Injury Claim
In this modern world, what you post on social media can be fair game for insurance companies and opposing counsel in a lawsuit. If insurance companies can legally have access to a plaintiff in a public setting, the same “rule” legally applies to something posted to the internet or social media when the platform is public. Think of a public social media account as a public setting out in the real world; if the other party has public access to it, it can be used against you.
Furthermore, even if your social media settings are “private,” you still need to be careful and smart about what you post following an accident. In some recent personal injury lawsuits, such as Largent v. Reed, courts have ordered plaintiffs to turn over their login information to their private social media accounts to be closely inspected! Truly, there’s no such thing as privacy when it comes to social media, and there’s no such thing as being overly cautious when the outcome of your case could affect your life for years to come as you try to recover from both physical and financial damage due to someone else’s negligence.
Here are some examples of social media posts that can be used against you, damaging your personal injury claim or case.
- Incriminating Photographs. Photographs of you or even your vehicle may contradict information you’ve provided in your claim. If you’ve claimed that you’re suffering from serious physical injuries or financial distress sustained from the accident or because of medical malpractice, and then you post pictures of yourself enjoying normal activities as if nothing happened to you, that can contradict your claim. It’s understandable that you would want to try to enjoy life as normally as possible following a traumatic accident, but consider how even the most normal, mundane activities can look to other people. Your normal activities may demonstrate to the insurance companies, or even a judge and a jury, that your life hasn’t really been negatively affected by someone else’s negligence.
- Status Updates. Sharing too much information on social media about your personal life, especially about your accident, can be detrimental to your case. Even a seemingly innocent post like “Thank goodness I’m alright,” following an accident can be used against you since it contradicts your claim that you are NOT alright.
- Check-Ins. Checks in on Facebook, Yelp, or Foursquare can show that you’re out and about as if nothing happened. Obviously, if you’re claiming you have limited mobility, it’s probably best to not check in at the local water park or your gym. But even “checking in” or sharing your location when dining out at a restaurant when you’ve claimed you have a financial burden from medical bills or lost wages due to the accident can be damaging.
- Posts or Comments from Friends and Family. Yes, even your friend’s and family’s social media are “fair game” for insurance companies and opposing counsel. If they post pictures or status updates about you or your accident, that can have a damaging effect on your claim. Or, if they jokingly comment on your posts about your “bad driving” or how you can be accident-prone even when you’re not behind the wheel, that can hurt you when up against an insurance company or against defense attorneys who are committed to paying you as little compensation as possible.
Lessons to Learn From a Top Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer
The bottom line is simple: you have every right to post on social media as you choose, but when you’re suffering legitimate injuries that have impacted your way of life because of someone else, you should do everything in your power to protect yourself and your case. The insurance company can and will distort what you seemingly posted innocently. Best course of action: NEVER say anything about your accident, your injuries or how your life has been affected on social media. What you post on social media can and will be used against you by the insurance companies and the lawyers you’re fighting against, so don’t compromise your own case. If you’ve suffered injuries from an accident that was of little-to-no fault of your own, you deserve compensation, and you deserve to have an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner. Contact Mike today.