Social media is an excellent networking tool and a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are in constant use by people of all ages, and TikTok has all but overtaken Snapchat among younger users. Most adults are also so accustomed to using these platforms that checking in and posting updates is part of their daily routine. Social media has definite advantages for many people, but take care how you use it if you are filing a personal injury claim.
The Risk of Exposing Too Much
Social media creates risks for injured people when they are in the midst of a claim, whether it involves a car accident or work injury. It is a standard operating procedure for investigators and insurance adjusters to check social media posts while evaluating a plaintiff’s injuries. Anything posted publicly can be obtained, whether it is information shared by other people or you. When it comes time to negotiate your claim, they’re likely to use those posts, however unrelated, against you.
This may include:
- Photos in which you are smiling or engaged in a physical activity
- Information you have shared with others about your injury claim
- Geo-data that reveals your movements and where you’ve been, such as gyms or bars
- How active your social life appears to be
- Activities that could aggravate your injuries
- Anything that contradicts the facts in your personal injury claim
- A history of careless driving, poor work safety, or reckless behavior
Ultimately, the adjuster is looking for anything that can diminish the value of your claim or show that or that your pain and suffering are greatly exaggerated. After an accident, many injured people experience emotional distress and physical pain and suffering that interferes with their activities and diminishes their quality of life. Any evidence that the accident has not severely impacted your life can and will be used against you.
During their investigation, they will look at social media platforms to discover any videos, photos, or posts that tag or mention you. Platforms used by your friends and followers will also be thoroughly scrutinized to find any information about you. The insurance company can also use comments made by others on your public pages.
If the information gathered from your social media activity raises doubts about the veracity of your claim, opposing counsel may ask the court to grant them access to your social media accounts. In some situations, courts will also grant access to private social media information.
What Should You Do?
Best option? Turn off your accounts. That means either going private or temporarily turning them off in your account settings. Many social media platforms are a nightmare to fully delete and will take every step possible to keep you on the app, but that means you can essentially make your account invisible and temporarily unavailable until after your claim is complete. In addition, ask your friends and family not to mention you, tag you, post or tweet anything about you, or comment on your pages.
Lastly, once you are ready to pursue a claim, contact Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. Our New York personal injury lawyers are well-versed in going up against at-fault insurance companies and can aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf. We are also fully aware of the ways social media can be presented in negotiations or a courtroom and can provide proper advice about what to do about your accounts. If you think we are the right firm for you, call us at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation.