How social media posts can negatively impact your accident claim
Social media might be part of your everyday routine, but you’ll want to rethink it after a car accident. If you’re filing a personal injury claim, it’s very likely that the other party’s insurance company is scouring your socials. They’ll be looking for any excuse to poke holes in your story, minimize your pain and suffering, and lower the amount of damages that they’ll have to pay.
While it might be hard to believe, your online activity during this time can have significant legal consequences for your case. This article will explain what you should and shouldn’t post on social media after an accident to protect your rights.
How insurance companies use social media to discredit your claim
Cyber surveillance is a common tactic during personal injury investigations. Insurance investigators will find your social media accounts, look for anything that you’ve posted about your accident, and continue to monitor you in hopes that you’ll say something self-incriminating.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re suing for bodily harm and emotional distress after an accident. If you post a picture of you and a friend going out to dinner one night, the insurance company can use it as evidence that you’re still physically fit enough for social activities.
Even seemingly harmless comments like “Having a blast!” or “Loving life!” can be used as proof that you’ve psychologically recovered from your accident.
Why you shouldn’t post on social media after an accident
Oversharing is a common problem on social media, but when you have a multi-million dollar insurance firm combing through every word that you post, it can have serious ramifications for your personal injury claim.
Here are just a few ways that your online presence can hurt your lawsuit:
- Your photos might be used against you to prove you’re not injured. Maybe you aren’t wearing your back brace in that particular photo. Maybe you’re drinking alcohol against the doctor’s orders. Many things can be used against you, even innocent photos of you smiling or looking happy.
- Frequent “check-ins” could be used to prove you’re still active. This is especially true if you’re engaging in physical activities that make it seem like you aren’t hurt. However, even everyday activities like driving, shopping or going to work can be used as evidence that your quality of life hasn’t changed since your accident.
- Your comments might contradict sworn statements you’ve given about the case. You told the police that the accident happened at 11 P.M., but you posted, “OMG, lucky to be alive!” at 10:02 P.M. These discrepancies can be used to prove that you aren’t an accurate or reliable source of information about your accident. In a worst-case scenario, you might be accused of outright lying.
Top “don’ts” on social media after an accident
In an ideal world, you’ll take a break from social media after filing a lawsuit. The other party can’t use your posts against you if you aren’t posting anything at all.
If you find it difficult to go cold turkey, however, here are a few tips for using social media responsibly after a car accident:
- Don’t admit guilt or say you “feel sorry” about the accident. Personal injury cases are built off the concept of negligence, which means that the other party is the one at fault. An admission of guilt from your side can muddy the waters of liability.
- Don’t post photos of yourself or your activities. As discussed above, these can be used as photo evidence that you aren’t suffering as much as you claim.
- Don’t discuss your accident or injuries. You might contradict the official version of events. Even small discrepancies can be used by insurance companies to say, “See, they don’t remember the accident as well as they thought.”
- Don’t respond to comments from people you don’t know. This is a common tactic by insurance companies trying to dig for more details about your accident.
- Don’t accept any friend requests from people you don’t know. Again, you never know when it’s actually an insurance investigator posing as someone else. They might be trying to gain access to private posts or make you admit incriminating things through DMs.
- Don’t delete your posts. Deleted posts are often still recoverable, and what’s more, they can make it seem like you’re trying to tamper with evidence in your case.
- Don’t rant or make angry comments. Even if they’re unrelated to your accident, angry comments can be used to paint an unflattering picture of yourself as a plaintiff.
What about social media privacy laws?
Some people delete posts or set their socials to “private” after a car accident. This is good thinking, but it isn’t foolproof.
For starters, attorneys can still access your social media posts even if you’ve set your account to private.
They’ll start by asking you to make them public, and if you refuse, they can go to a judge and get a court order.
All they need to say is that they suspect your social media accounts will have pertinent information to their investigation, and the judge will likely approve it.
Another thing to consider is the old adage that “nothing is ever truly deleted from the internet.” You can edit or remove incriminating posts, but they might still be recoverable by techs with good computer skills, and you can bet that insurance companies will hire those types of people when big settlement sums are on the line.
Contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important to contact a seasoned personal injury attorney. They can help you build a case, file a claim and negotiate a settlement for damages. If necessary, they can also represent you in court.
Hiring the right accident lawyer can make all of the difference in getting the compensation that you deserve after an accident.
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, we have a proven track record of success helping Tampa Bay area injury victims. Our initial consultation is always free, and we won’t charge you a fee unless we win your case.