Social media has become an important digital forum for people to share photos and talk about their activities and experiences. As great as social media is for keeping in contact with family members and friends, you should think twice about posting information about your personal injury case. One thing to remember is that social media is not private, no matter what security settings you use!
Insurance companies know that people tend to talk freely on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They take selfies to show everyone where they are, what they are doing, and even what they have for dinner. Many people find social media to be downright addictive, spending many hours each day recording their actions and activities.
Personal Injury Case and Social Media
The fact is that social media plays an increasingly bigger role in our lives with each passing year. People use it to find products and services, to plan trips, and to express their political views. Some actions have legal consequences, sometimes landing offenders in court. What you say and do on your social media account can hurt your personal injury case, resulting in you receiving less money or losing your claim altogether.
You might think that it is somewhat unlikely that someone from your insurance company will notice your holiday pictures on Facebook or Instagram, but it is important to be wary. The internet has, in fact, become a valuable tool for investigating personal injury claims, and insurers will actively search out your social media profiles as a means of either verifying or discrediting your claim.
The information you provide without thinking about it is all it takes to challenge your version of events. Since the insurer is a business like any other, their priority is to minimize the amount of money they need to pay out, and so they are more than willing to put in a little effort to find incriminating posts. The same applies to defense lawyers tasked with disputing your version of events Even seemingly innocent posts may result in your claim unraveling, in the insurer declining to pay out on your claim, and on you losing your case.
The reason that you filed your personal injury claim was to get financial compensation for your injuries. Defense lawyers and insurance companies work hard to prevent paying your claim. Don’t expect them to just sit back and see what happens. They know how to find out information about you, and how to use that information to save them money.
If you simply can’t let go of the urge to post altogether, at least consider some of the ways to avoid giving the insurance companies ammunition to blow your claim out of the water.
What Not to Do
Don’t Talk Directly about the Details of Your Accident
It’s natural to want to share details about your accident, your injury, and the progress of your recovery. It alleviates the concerns that your friends and relatives may feel for you when they are far away. The problem is that the same information that calms your Aunt Betsy’s fears on the other side of the country will also give the insurance company evidence to suggest that you aren’t as severely hurt as you claimed.
Most people tend to share the positive on social media. Even if your pain is being controlled hour by hour by pain medication, you’re more likely to talk about your improvements than about how much sleep you have lost. If the other side present these positive posts in court, it may convince the judge that you aren’t really suffering that much.
The job of your personal injury case is to prove that the other party is at fault. He must also prove that your claims of injury are legitimate and that the compensation you want is reasonable. All it takes is you “Oh, I’m fine” or “Everything’s healing nicely” to cost you thousands of dollars that you really need.
The same is true when describing your post-injury activities. Any comment that over-states your rate of recovery or your ability to participate in activities can hurt your case. Err on the side of caution and always assume that the insurance company will see whatever you post.
Don’t Advertise Your Whereabouts
Avoid “Checking In” to events and locations that could be seen to minimize your injuries. If your friends decide to wheel you around the local amusement park in your wheelchair to take your mind off your broken leg, no problem!. Just don’t use the Check In feature to let social media viewers see your location. Otherwise, the insurance company might assume you are barreling down water slides and living it up on the roller coaster when in fact this is not the case.
Don’t Brag About Your Accomplishments
Reaching new heights on your favorite games probably isn’t something to blawPersoast about right now. If your claim is that you are unable to do even the simplest things, high scores on video games can invalidate that claim. Even if this is a big step down from your normal activities, the ability to play and win video games might insinuate that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claimed.
Lookout for Fake Friend Requests
Most of us are a little wary about receiving friend requests from strangers, but, if your personal injury claim is ongoing, it is time to be extra careful. If you aren’t 100% positive you know who someone is, don’t accept the friend request. Insurance companies frequently create fake profiles with the hope that you will invite them in and provide them with access to your entire profile. The first level of protection is to not put anything on your social media account that could hurt you. The second level is to lock out the insurance company and make sure they can’t twist innocent findings into something incriminating.
Don’t Post any Videos or Photos
Avoiding photos of you hiking or playing sports is a no-brainer, but even sitting on a park bench or enjoying drinks with friends could give the wrong impression. It’s easy to dismiss your claims of pain when you look happy and involved in whatever is going on.
Insurance companies used to be limited to videos that they took while spying on you. Today, many people who file personal injury claims do the hard work for the insurers! The best approach is not to post any videos or photos of yourself regardless of when they were taken or how innocent they look.
Stay Off Message Boards and Online Forums
Forums offer a lot of information and support for some types of injuries and dealing with your pain and other symptoms. However, you should keep in mind that the insurance company can potentially find you there, too. Comments on forums and message boards could hurt your case just as easily as posts on your own page or profile.
If you’ve seen those advertisements online encouraging you to “Google” yourself, you’ll know that it’s really easy to find personal information on someone armed with nothing more than their name. You shouldn’t be surprised to discover, then, that insurance companies can use on Google to find you, too. What’s easier than typing in your name and watching to see what turns up? Make sure there’s nothing anywhere online that could hurt you and your case.
Don’t Attack the Other Side
No matter how angry you are about your situation, or how easy it is to vent on social media, it isn’t a good idea. Others may interpret your comments taking advantage of the situation just to collect money or to further your position. If the wrong person gets hold of your posts, they can use them against you.
What You Should Do
Raise Your Privacy Settings
Raise your privacy settings to the highest level but don’t let your guard down. The insurance company could still find a way into your posts. The courts might even give them permission to access your account in spite of your best efforts. Your approach to using social media should be a combination of preventive measures. Always think about the worst-case scenario and what it could cost you.
Social media is one place where appearances matter more than truth. Even though you know that your injuries are as severe as you claimed, you never know when something you say or do will give the appearance of fraud. Once a mistake is made, there is little your personal injury attorney can do to turn your case around. Prevention is always the better approach to protecting your claim until your case is settled.
Understand the Complexity of Personal Injury Claims
Sometimes people decide to work through a personal injury case on their own. They think that as long as they fill out and submit the paperwork, that’s it; everything will be fine! Posting on social media is just one example of how things can go wrong. Personal injury laws are very complex. If you suffered serious injuries, you could end up getting far less than you need to cover all of the damage you received.
There are two sides to every dispute and each one has a vested interest in winning. The insurance company stands to lose a great deal of money if you win. You stand to lose your rights and your compensation if you lose. There are professionals on each side, trying to gain information and use it to their advantage. Those on the other side collect evidence in a number of ways. Don’t let your guard down whether you are online or mowing the lawn. You never know who’s watching.
The two things that a personal injury attorney does is to prove fault and determine the value of your injury. The other side uses whatever information they find to dispute these claims. Nothing is more likely to help them than posting information on social media.
Only an experienced personal injury attorney knows the ‘ifs’ ‘ands’ and ‘buts’ associated with personal injury. This is especially true for understanding the laws in your state. From filling out the paperwork to negotiating the settlement, there’s lots of room for error that could cost you your personal injury case.
Your personal injury attorney will guide you and help you with many steps of the process along the way. Still, it is important to do your part. Reducing your online presence helps your attorney help you.
Choose the Right Personal Injury Attorney
Immediately after your injury, you need to choose an attorney to handle your personal injury case. Start by scheduling an appointment for a free consultation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking any type of attorney will do. The complexity of personal injury requires a specialist who has handled many other cases like yours with a successful outcome.
During the consultation, the attorney will evaluate your case and explain your options. This also gives you a chance to decide if the attorney is someone you feel comfortable working with. Your attorney will provide you with guidance from the time that you make your decision. It’s important that you make the choice carefully.
Taking precautions to protect your personal injury case begins immediately after the accident. If you are in a car accident, avoid making any comments about your injuries, even if you think they aren’t serious. Don’t talk to the at-fault party or their insurance company directly. Insurance companies often begin their tactics early on. One way they reduce the amount they have to pay is by offering you a low settlement before you even have legal representation.
People who commonly use social media to discuss the events in their lives think nothing of sharing the details of their accident and the injuries they receive. Posting information about missing medical appointments or speaking negatively about your medical providers is another way the other side can discredit you. We’re all guilty of posting dissatisfaction with all types of experiences. But this one could cost you a great deal more than any other situation.
Your personal injury attorney will provide you with a lot of guidelines on what to do and not do to protect your personal injury case. This advice may or may not include warnings about social media posts. Knowing how easily and how frequently insurance companies and defense lawyers use this information should deter you from posting.
The fact is that this knowledge could be the most important thing you know to protect your case. Proving a personal injury claim looks easy when a professional attorney handles it efficiently.
Batta Fulkerson is a dedicated personal injury firm with a record of success. Contact us to schedule your free consultation. Don’t wait to start protecting your personal injury case and your right to fair compensation.