Stopping social media is hard for anyone. When you have a personal injury claim pending, it could make all the difference.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat- these various types of social media can make defense attorneys or defense insurance companies and their staff feel like they have hit the jackpot if they find what they are usually scouring the web for: incriminating evidence that discredits or even eradicates a plaintiff’s personal injury complaints. In today’s world, social media posts do not count as illegally obtained evidence. Many people understand that it isn’t advantageous to post about their case online after sustaining an injury due to someone else’s negligence, especially after hiring an experienced attorney who has warned them about the potential downfalls of posting about their injuries on social media. However, we would like to provide you with even more information on this topic so that your online presence is as secure and “personal injury claim friendly” as possible.
At The Eberst Law Firm we want to share with you what we have learned over the years regarding the use of social media and how it could affect your personal injury claim, with the goal of making you aware so that you can post (or not post) with more caution in order to protect your claim.
How can a Social Media post Harm my Claim?
Imagine a hypothetical situation: you have been involved in a crash where a negligent driver crashed into you, and you suffered injuries to your low back, but you had already planned a trip at the end of the week to Europe to go backpacking with your friends for two weeks. Your friends are pressuring you, the tickets are booked, the hostels paid for, and you could really use a getaway after this traumatic crash. However, this is a dream scenario for the defense employees, especially if you or your friends took photos of this adventure that showed up on your social media platform(s). The photos show you trekking through some particularly rough looking terrain. The defense insurance company adjuster and/or attorney will argue in a heartbeat that your injuries from the crash couldn’t be that severe; after all, how would you be able to sit on a plane for 10 hours to go to Europe, and go hiking through the mountains on top of that! The defense side will ultimately hope to use this information, and any other potentially incriminating information, to validate a lower settlement offer for you. Please read our blog post, “Insurance Adjuster Tricks that Devalue Your Car Accident Claim” to learn more about this.
Additionally, fine-tuning your online social media presence is especially important if your case is in Litigation/a Lawsuit has been filed. Please review our “Personal Injury Case Timeline” for more information.
What are Examples of Potentially Harmful posts?
- Written posts:
- “The day I receive my settlement check from my ongoing lawsuit, I plan to spend half of the money on gambling & the other half on a much-needed shopping spree!”
Don’t ever post about what you anticipate doing with the settlement proceeds. Even if an individual has more noble ideas regarding how to use their settlement proceeds, such as buying a house or paying a child’s medical debt, it is still unwise to post about this as it could be used against you.
- “The person that hit me is really going to regret it!! They have ruined my life and I am going to make sure that they get what they deserve.”
Please rest assured that we will handle pursuing justice on your behalf by best representing your side of the claim and obtaining the highest settlement possible for you. Writing about the person who hit you does not work in your favor under any circumstances. You want the defense attorney and/or insurance companies to look at you in the best light possible.
- “My mind is racing from this accident- I can’t remember basic things like if I was wearing my seatbelt at the time of the crash, if I really hit my head, if I was speeding or not, or if the light was really green or yellow or red. But what difference does it make anyway? The other person it at fault for hitting me, and now I have an attorney.”
It is normal to feel a surge of adrenaline after the crash, which can sometimes cause people to be forgetful about details such as the injuries they sustained, or what exactly happened during the crash; please read our blog post “Seek Immediate Medical Attention after a Car Accident” to learn more about this. It’s ok to feel frustrated about this confusion, but again, this isn’t something that should be posted on your social media. Information like this can be used against you by the insurance company when they are conducting their liability investigation. Also, even if police officers wrote one thing on their report, police reports can sometimes be amended, especially if there is evidence that substantiates an amendment and a defense attorney pressing the matter.
- Don’t post photos/videos of any vehicles involved in the crash, including your own.
- Don’t post photos/videos of the scene of the crash.
- Don’t post photos/videos of your injuries.
- Don’t post photos/videos of you enjoying a vacation or getaway, or participating in physical activities such as horseback riding, jet skiing, going to the gym, or anything else that should be difficult for you to do given your current physical ailments.
- Don’t post photos/videos that show where you live.
Social Media Tips for those pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
- Be wary of & don’t ever accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Beware, even if you have “mutual friends”, as the defense side can create a fake profile, send friend requests to your friends first, and then send you a request after the fact. Insurance companies will try almost any method of surveillance sometimes.
- Make your social media pages completely private (or as private as you can), even past posts if they include information as your address, phone number, etc. LifeWire is a technology website that provides step-by-step instructions regarding how to adjust Facebook privacy settings.
- Limit the photos that you are tagged in; we suggest changing your privacy settings so that you must approve posts that you are tagged in.
- It doesn’t always work in your favor to fully delete your social media if you are pursuing a personal injury claim, especially if your case is in litigation and going to trial. If you delete your social media during this stage, it can sometimes appear that you are hiding something.
- Even after making your Facebook more secure and being cautious of friending only specific people, it is important to remember the most important rule: never post anything even potentially incriminating in the first place.
- Don’t ever accept a friend request from the other party who hit you, even if you feel sorry for them. Similarly, don’t accept a friend request from a witness to the crash. Statements will usually be taken from both parties during some point of the case, and you wouldn’t want anything that you said to be used against you, especially if it is recorded in a written message log.
- Lastly: when in doubt, DON’T post!
Contact us to Discuss your Personal Injury Claim
Meet with one of our experienced attorneys today at the Eberst Law Firm if you have been involved in an auto accident, slip and fall, or any other accident caused by someone else’s negligence, and you would like counseling regarding your social media presence. We would be happy to help answer any questions you have. We are here to help you maximize your settlement amount, and part of that is making sure that your social media persona is squeaky clean. We would love the opportunity to help you fine tune your online presence, while we also work hard to obtain a remarkable settlement for you.