Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, Path, and other social network sites are popular with people of all age groups. You may have read about employers using these sites to screen job applicants or check up on their employees.
Yes, we know, everyone is on Facebook and everyone is tweeting. But guess what? These sites are not just for keeping up with your friends. Auto insurance companies and their attorneys use these sites also. Insurance adjusters are checking Facebook and Twitter to get information about YOU! Insurance companies use social networking sites to confirm or disprove the amount of pain you are in, or how badly you are hurt.
Our firm has had specific personal injury and workers’ compensation cases where our opponent has used social networking sites to investigate our clients which have affected the outcome of the case. We have also used these sites to investigate defendants in our cases.
Pictures, videos, personal information, posts, and comments can damage or even destroy your personal injury case. You voluntarily put all of this personal information on the site and load personal photos on your sites. Your friends make funny comments about you. You may even put videos on YouTube.
The insurance adjusters may only have to do internet surveillance of these social websites to get valuable information about you to justify their low settlement offers. When you file a personal injury claim after an accident, you have to begin living in a glass house. YOU must be aware of how your pictures and comments will be viewed. Sometimes, even innocent and seemingly irrelevant things can be twisted to make it look as if you are not injured or that you are lying about your physical restrictions and limitations. Even making your pages private may not be enough to stop the insurance company. You may inadvertently make a friend or follower of someone the adjuster knows. You may make a friend or follower of a law clerk or even an attorney who represents the insurance company.
Something to keep in mind: If we file a lawsuit on your behalf, the judge may order you to produce copies of your social media pages. Our preference would be that you refrain from posting ANYTHING about your accident, your injuries, or your case – not even that you are in pain or are seeking medical care. The reason is that we want to maintain control of all outgoing information, and we do not want anything to be posted on the internet that the adjuster or defense lawyer may be able to find.
While we would prefer you to stop using these social media sites once you open your personal injury claim, we understand that you are probably not going to quit. However, we would like to give you these tips in dealing with your social media pages so you can further protect yourself:
1. Do not post anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable having the insurance adjuster read or be confronted with in court. BE CAREFUL!
2. Check your privacy settings and block anyone you do not know from viewing your personal pages.
3. Do not accept any friend request or answer any e-mails from people you do not know.
4. DO NOT delete anything (posts, pictures, videos, etc) that are currently on your page that is related in any way to your case. Doing so may constitute the illegal destruction of evidence.
We know you may not be able to stop your spouse or children from using social media sites, caution them on making any postings about your activities. Unfortunately, the same goes for your friends!
Although these sites are fun and are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, the insurance company will use these sites against you in so many different ways. THE BOTTOM LINE IS TO USE COMMON SENSE. Protect yourself as you use social media sites.
Don’t post anything you would not feel comfortable having the insurance company adjustor or the jury see. If you have any questions regarding your social media pages, please do not hesitate to contact Charles at 419-241-1395 or email@example.com for more information.
Charles E. Boyk