If you have been injured in an accident and filed an insurance claim or lawsuit, it is worth betting that the responsible party’s insurance company or the defendant’s attorney will conduct an online search to find out more information about you. They will be most likely looking for information that can be used to deny your claim or downplay the seriousness of your injuries.
Although you may be active online in a variety of ways, by far the biggest online danger to most people is social media. Most people on social media do not hesitate to share their daily activities with their friends or followers. It can be a great place to share pictures of yourself and your family, your daily activities, keep in touch with old friends and family members, and share opinions with others. However, social media can have a major negative effect on your personal injury claim, and can even destroy it entirely.
Many personal injury attorneys recommend that their injured clients quit using social media altogether while the case is ongoing. However, some people may not understand the importance or be unwilling to suspend their activity entirely. If you continue to use social media while your case is ongoing, be very, very careful about what you post. Don’t post happy, smiling pictures that can be used against you later. Don’t “check in” to a roller skating rink, even if you were only there to drop off your children at a birthday party. Anything that gives the impression that you are not seriously injured should be avoided.
Following are the biggest social media mistakes many personal injury claimants in San Francisco make:
- Assuming your posts are private. Every social media site has privacy settings, and those may assure you that nothing you post online can be seen by anyone unless you authorize it. Nothing is completely private on the internet. Making strict privacy settings may help, but those cannot completely limit access from outside sources. If an insurance adjuster wants access to your social media content, they will find a way to get it.
- Discussing your accident or your legal case. Absolutely do not discuss your accident or your legal case online with anyone. It doesn’t matter what you say about the case – even if you only give an accurate account of the accident and your injuries or not. Not only can the information that you disclose to others be distorted and used against you, anybody that you share information about your accident with can potentially become a witness to your case, and be deposed or called to trial.
- Allowing friends to post about you. If you continue using your social media accounts while your personal injury case is active, let friends know, verbally, not to post anything about you. If you are unable to speak with certain friends, send them a private message letting them know not to post about you. Even the most innocent posts can be used against you in court. For example, your friends may “check in” at a ski resort and tag you. You may be unable to ski because of your neck injury from the accident, but that creates suspicion among defendants and jurors, and is something you will have to explain and defend.
- Failing to search through old information on the internet. Insurance adjusters and/or defense attorneys will look for information about you online. It’s important to Google yourself to find out what is publicly available for them to find. If there is information online that could be detrimental to your claim, it should be deleted. For example, you may have had a neck injury a few years ago that is completely unrelated to your new injuries, and you may have posted online about it. With that information, a defense attorney would claim that you were not really hurt in the accident, and that your injuries were pre-existing.
- Accepting new friends on your social media pages while the case is ongoing. You may be thrilled to find out someone new wants to be your friend. Do not accept friend or follower requests from someone you do not know. It’s not unheard of for insurance agents to create fake profiles in an attempt to access your pages to get information that will hurt your claim.
It is tragic when a person is truly injured in an accident, and their legitimate claim is destroyed because of carelessness on social media. If you have been injured in an accident and you have questions about your social media accounts, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney at 510-645-1000. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.