If you were injured in a car accident, slip and fall, a dog bite, or in any other manner that was caused by the intentional, negligent, or careless actions of another person or entity, you likely have a personal injury claim. Such claims are generally handled and defended by the responsible party’s insurance company who will investigate your claim by various means, including your use of social media.
If you use any kind of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube or others, know that anything you post can and will be used against you!
Use of social media is widespread these days, especially for millennials but also for persons of nearly all age groups. If you have a Facebook account, chances are that you are linked to dozens if not hundreds or more of other people.
Pew Research indicates that as of 2016:
- 79% of the online US population use Facebook including 68% of adults.
- Twitter was at 24%
- Pinterest at 31%
- Instagram at 32%
- LinkedIn at 29%.
Never before has it been so easy to share information with your friends and family within seconds. This information can include a new dating partner, a trip to Nepal, or that you were injured in an accident. But if you do post any information regarding your accident and injuries and how it is affecting you, are you doing yourself any favors by doing so?
Allegations in a Personal Injury Claim
When you initiate an injury claim, you are placing your physical as well as mental condition to be examined since most injury claims will allege both physical and mental harm. For example, you may allege that your injury has caused you insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, withdrawal, or depression. You may also have alleged a change in how you act around your family and friends, including your wife.
Other statements that injured people usually make in a personal injury case are that you are no longer able to engage in certain activities such as your favorite sport (golf, swimming, running, weight lifting, softball, etc.) or that you are unable to do routine household tasks like laundry, cooking, cleaning, playing with your kids, lifting objects, or shopping. Your injury claim can be supported and made more valuable by reliable evidence of how your life is no longer as happy or satisfying as it was before you were injured.
All of these claims made by you are subject to being questioned and investigated by the insurer and attorney for the party you believe caused your accident.
To Post or Not to Post
Anytime something important or interesting happens to you, it is tempting to go to your Facebook page or other media program you like to use and immediately let your friends and contacts know. If you were injured, why not let others know? In your mind, you may also feel that letting the world know how injured you were and how you were affected can only make your claim that much better.
Reasons for Not Posting
However, posting anything online is no longer private information. Claims investigators and defense attorneys, if you file a claim in court, will scan and carefully review all your social media postings to look for inconsistencies, admissions, information not previously revealed and even evidence of fraud.
Many attorneys have the opinion that you should stop using any social media, at least until your case is over. Anything you post can be used against you, especially if you post something that is different than what you wrote or said in a statement given under oath, in your filed Complaint, in written questions that were asked of you, or a deposition. Even the slightest difference in what you said before can make you look bad by a defense investigator or attorney.
For instance, in a post you stated that you and a friend were just returning from a bar when the accident happened, a fact you never mentioned in all your previous statements. Even if you had one drink with dinner over several hours, you appear not believable since you did not mention this and many people assume that you are hiding something. A more glaring error is that shortly after your deposition where you stated your knee injury has kept you from enjoying skiing and other sports and that you were feeling isolated from friends and family, you post a photograph of you smiling and sweating after playing basketball with friends. In an actual case brought by a young woman who claimed extreme emotional distress after an alleged sexual assault by a coach, she posted a photo taken after her claim was filed that showed her drinking, laughing and socializing with friends. Her claim was soon dropped.
Posting complaints about your injuries or how you cannot work or play golf can also seem like whining to insurance adjusters or jurors who may have to decide your compensation. Many jurors are skeptical about people seeking compensation and will be unsympathetic if you appear to be playing the “victim.” With this in mind, talking about an upcoming surgery or even asking for prayers for yourself is not recommended.
Another thing to not do is to accept new contacts on Facebook. This could easily be an investigator who will ask how you are doing after reading about your injury and wants to know more about it. In the same vein, you may want to have only minimum contacts with friends online since anything you post that may appear harmless to you can be interpreted differently and used against you.
Reasons for Posting
On the other hand, social media could make your claim more valuable if you tell friends and family that you suffered a serious injury and that it has harmed the way you live your life. If you are going to continue to use Facebook and other social media, discuss this with your attorney regarding what to post and if you should be getting back to others.
For example, if you want to publish photographs of your vehicle and physical injuries, only use those that have already been approved by your attorney and sent to the defense. Any comments you make should be limited and approved ahead of time by your attorney. You may consider increasing your privacy settings so that you only share information with friends, though this may not be a good thing either if your friends are interviewed by a defense investigator.
If part of your claim is feeling left out and depression, having dozens of friends respond with sympathy may or may not harm your case since you are reaching out for support. Many of these people may be those you have not seen in years or live across the country and are not part of your inner circle. Still, if you have to explain something, you may already be losing.
You might consider staying away from certain postings, including:
- How your case is proceeding
- That the defendant is lying or looks like a creep
- Updates on your condition and treatment
- How you plan to use your settlement
- How the accident happened
The best course of action is probably to stop posting anything other than a possible post that you were injured in an accident and will not be using social media until further notice. But if you simply must post something, have it reviewed first by your attorney.
Contact the Brooks Law Group
Your personal injury claim should be handled by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can properly explain to you how your case is to be handled, including your continued use of social media during your recovery and while your claim is being handled.
In too many cases, injured victims have not received proper advice or followed a course of action that damaged their claim and resulted in compensation for far less than they should have received. Brooks Law Group has been successfully representing the interests of injured parties and their families for decades, not only in Tampa, Winter Haven, and Lakeland– but the surrounding areas of Central Florida as well. Our attorneys fight for their clients and genuinely keep their best interest at heart. If you have been injured in an accident, call the Brooks Law Group. We offer free consultations ensuring that you have nothing to lose by calling us now at 1-800-LAw-3030!