Would you post something like this on your social media: “I got into a car accident today. My car is totaled, but the good news is that I’m ok!” What is the harm in sending something like that on a platform designed to connect us and that is a big part of our lives today? Turns out, in a legal sense, it could cause a great deal of harm.
Tens of millions of Americans spend time on social media. Globally, the number is in the billions. It’s a way to document our lives, share news and keep in touch with friends and family. If you’re one of those people who wouldn’t think twice about sharing something as life-changing as a car accident, this information is for you.
In the aftermath of a personal injury accident, spending time and oversharing on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and other social media platforms can seriously and irreparably harm your right to receive compensation. Most lawyers recommend abstaining from posting on social media until your case is settled because what you say, where you check in, and how you act online can all be used against you in a court of law.
The following questions and answers will help you think twice before using social media in the middle of a personal injury case.
Q: Is my social media information off limits?
A: No, unfortunately nothing on the Internet is off limits. Insurance companies can use social media against you, and typically will if it means they have the chance to pay less. They always have the right to use public information to help them build their case. All posts are public statements that can be used against you. The best thing to do is suspend your social media presence until your case is over.
Q: How can insurance companies look for evidence in posts?
A: In the eyes of insurance companies, the most you post, the better. For example, your words could be twisted to make you appear guilty. Anything that differs from an initial statement could be used to argue you’re an unreliable witness. If you claim emotional or physical suffering and then you post yourself having fun or hiking, that could be used to undercut your injury claims.
Q: Do I have to stay off social media entirely?
A: It’s best to post sparingly. If you do talk about anything related to the case, keep it brief and avoid any details. For example, “I was involved in an accident. I was injured. I am seeking appropriate medical treatment. I am grateful for the support of my friends and family.” Make it so the insurance companies and their attorneys have no reason to discredit you.
Stick to “liking” other people’s posts and avoid commenting as much as possible. Even the most casual status update could be used against you at trial. These tips go for any of your close friends and family members, too. Ask your immediate circle not to post anything about you after the accident until your case has been resolved.
Q: What if I just change my settings to private?
A: At the very least you should set your profiles to private rather than public view regardless of whether you post anything related to the accident. Private posts and profiles are not completely safe but it’s best to be more careful than not. And think about how often you comment on friends’ posts, and what you say in those comments. Their privacy settings may not be private so your comments could be game for the whole world to see.
Q: Can my location be tracked?
A: Yes. You should adjust your location-based settings and limit your geo-targeted “check-ins.” Why? If it’s a place where you have the potential to show activity, it could be used against you as a way to prove you aren’t as injured as you claim.
Q: Do I need to run anything I plan to post by my attorney before I do it?
A: At the very least, make a point to consult with your attorney about the things you can and cannot do regarding your social media activity and the appropriate privacy setting. If you have already posted something about the accident on social media, discuss what you should do before deleting your post. Under no circumstances should you accept responsibility for any aspect of the accident, undermine the seriousness or call into question the extent of your injuries.
If you’re not careful, the insurance companies will find a lot to work with on your social media accounts. As a general rule of thumb, think before you act. Consider your case before you post something, accept friend requests from people you don’t know, delete anything that is potentially incriminating, or discuss any specifics about the accident or injuries.
Have You Posted Something You Need to Explain-Away? Contact Us Today.
The last thing you want to have happen is to cast doubt about your credibility and/or the amount of money you deserve. The worst case scenario could sink your case completely. Don’t let that happen. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.