Social media, for many people, is a way of life.
It is the only place they can communicate with loved ones, keep up with friends, and some even use it as a place to store thoughts, feelings of the day, and family photographs.
With so many people reaching for their phones and logging in, it can be a hard reality to face that social media might also ruin a personal injury lawsuit.
Humans love to share, and social media is a place to share. While it might seem private, it isn’t. Posting on social media not only risks others reading what was written, but it could result in a personal injury case that receives a nominal settlement or no settlement at all.
If you have a social media account and you are about to file an injury lawsuit, now is the time to understand why social media is one of the many things you must avoid during your suit – or it could cost you.
3 Reasons Your Philadelphia Injury Attorney Wants You to Stay off Social Media
Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+, are all websites and apps to avoid the moment you plan to file an injury lawsuit.
If you think status updates and keeping your profile live during your case is harmless, here are three reasons your attorney needs you to stay off it:
Defense Attorneys, Claims’ Adjusters, and Investigators Are on Social Media, Checking to See What You Post
Defense attorneys and their investigative team will look at social media for evidence that helps their client pay less or nothing in an injury lawsuit.
They don’t just look for what you post on social media either; they want to see what friends, families, and acquaintances post about you, too. Insurance companies look for evidence that your pain and suffering is not real – or that you are outright lying.
They will use any photograph, video, or memory to show you are not telling the truth, and they are not below twisting evidence in their favor.
They comb through your social media accounts along with those on your friends list. They look for photographs of you during activities, smiling, or even status updates about you attending an outing. They see what places you have checked into, and they wait for your name to be tagged.
These parties look at everything they can to determine:
- If you are smiling or engaged in regular activities – showing you are not as injured as you claim.
- If you appear to still have an active social life after the accident.
- If your geo data shows you visiting locations or even going on vacation.
- If you have shared information about the case.
- If you are participating in activities (gym, sports, recreation) that would further aggravate your injuries.
Insurance Companies Use Your Posts against You in a Lawsuit
Insurance companies want to minimize how much they pay out. They will use social media in any way that they can to prove your injuries are not as severe as you claim. If you post on social media anything that could be interpreted as a contradiction to what you claim, they will present it in court.
For example, you are seeking pain and suffering from physical injuries and emotional distress. You might say that you have anxiety and you cannot drive to work. You may say the pain is so bad you cannot leave your house.
When you make claims like this, here are a few examples of how the insurance company would use your account against you:
You have a family member tag you in a photo at a family event. You are smiling, but in reality, smiling through the pain. In the photograph, you seem happy and you are out. In your claim, you say the pain is so severe that you cannot leave home – let alone enjoy life. Insurance companies would use this to say you exaggerated or made up your pain and suffering entirely.
Insurance companies use your accounts to raise doubt – regardless of how untrue they might be.
The Court Could Consider Posts a Waiver of Confidentiality
What you post on social media is not yours to keep. In fact, the court typically says that anything you post on social media means you have consented for it to be public.
Furthermore, if you are amidst a settlement, you may have a clause in the agreement that prohibits you from discussing the case. Sharing anything on social media may constitute sharing:
- Commenting about your situation – even if you do not provide details
- Discussing injuries from the accident
- Speculating with friends about your case’s outcome
- Posting photos, videos, and other media from the accident, injuries, or treatments you have received
- Discussing the names of others involved in your case
- Talking about how you plan to spend the settlement money
- Revealing information from private conversations with the insurance company or defense attorneys
If you share the confidential information on social media, your settlement could be lost.
How to Use Your Social Media without Harming Your Case
Ideally, your attorney would like to see you and social media go through a long-term break-up. If you insist on using social media after you start your lawsuit, you need to exercise caution. Some things you can do to prevent your social media updates from harming your case include:
- Setting your status to private;
- Suspending all updates and posts until the case is over;
- Not following any new groups, accounts, or friends;
- Not adding any new friends – even if you think you know them;
- Asking that anyone who knows you does not post or tag anything about you;
- Removing friends from your friends list that you do not know or talk to in person anymore; and
- Telling your attorney about your social media accounts that are still active and get guidelines.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, you should not let an injury financially bankrupt your family. Instead, contact an attorney that is ready to help fight for your right to compensation.
Contact me, attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. I can help you through the process of filing a claim or going through a lawsuit with insurance companies.
To get started, schedule a free case evaluation by calling me toll-free at 800-465-8795, my cell at 215-771-0430, or filling out my online contact form.