Social Media and Your Personal Injury Case
Social media has become extremely prevalent over the past few years. A Pew Research Center report in 2014 found 74% of adults who used the Internet also used social media sites. That percentage has likely grown since then. One of the benefits of using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is that it gives people a sense of community and communication. It allows people to share their experiences with friends and family, and receive nearly instantaneous feedback.
Because it is also so new, people are unaware of the effect it has on other areas of their lives. While it might be great to share a new meal or experience with friends and family, they might not be the only ones who see your posts. Once a photo or message is on the Internet, it stays there.
Increasingly, attorneys have been using social media posts in their cases. Divorce disputes, for example, can often draw from one of the couple’s public profiles to prove or disprove responsibility in questions of custody. In personal injury cases, insurance companies who don’t want to pay for your medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost wages will use any social media posts they can to prove that you’re not as injured as you claim.
For example, let’s say you were seriously injured in a car accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will have to pay for your medical costs and for any lost wages if you have to take time off from work to recover. If you’re also claiming pain and suffering because the accident has given you post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the insurance company can pull a recent photo of you smiling with your friends to prove your injury isn’t as severe as you claim.
Emotional distress is something people can claim damages for but isn’t likely to be something you would put on social media. For example, if an accident triggered anxiety or depression, you’re not likely to post photos of yourself looking unhappy or miserable, particularly if you’re an emotionally private person. However, the photos you do post might be an attempt to put your best self forward for the world to see. The insurance company will use this happier photo as evidence you’re not feeling the emotional distress that you claim to be experiencing.
Despite your privacy settings, anything you post publicly on the Internet is public record. While private messages cannot be accessed without consent or a warrant, everything else is available for use against you in court, whether or not it is used in context.
If you have been injured and are making a personal injury claim, your best bet is to cease all social media activity until after all legal proceedings are finished. If you can’t go a day without your social media accounts, at least set your page to private and keep from accepting any new friend requests. Likewise, ask all friends and family members to keep from posting anything related to you after your accident and set their profiles to private as well. Keep yourself and your information from being exploited by insurance companies.
If you need help making a personal injury claim following an accident, talk to our experienced Portland personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Timothy Grabe. Our firm takes on big insurance companies, representing individuals who have suffered serious personal injuries. Our founding attorney understands how insurance companies operate. As a former representative of such businesses early in his career, he understands both sides of the issue and puts his experience to work today for his clients. To get started on your case, contact us at 503-223-0022 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation today.