Capturing an enjoyable moment with a video and posting it to Facebook may seem like a normal and innocent thing to do. But if you have recently been involved in a car accident, those seemingly harmless posts can be harmful to your car accident case. Below is a look at how Facebook and other social media giants impact personal injury cases and five steps you can take to prevent social media from harming your car accident case.
How can social media activity harm your case?
If you are like many of Facebook’s 2.8 billion monthly users, you spend at least 30 minutes per day posting content or browsing the platform. So if you have used the platform for years, you may wonder why you suddenly need to monitor your activity after a car accident.
The answer to this question lies in a growing trend among insurance companies and defense lawyers. In a nutshell, investigators scan accident claimants’ social media profiles to look for evidence that will dispute their injury claims. For instance, if a person claims after getting hit by an 18-wheeler their injuries are so severe that they must remain in bed, an investigator may actively follow the claimant’s social media posts to look for photos and videos that show the claimant is able and physically well. Examples may include the claimant enjoying dinner out on the town or out for a morning stroll.
This tactic’s ultimate goal is to avoid paying claims or keep payments as low as possible at all costs. Over the past decade, this practice has become commonplace. While it can help prevent fraudulent claims from being paid, a misinterpreted photo or video can prevent people with legitimate injuries from being adequately compensated.
Never underestimate what a skilled defense lawyer can do to suggest your injuries are not as represented.
Is it legal for insurers to review your social media activity?
Yes. Insurance companies are legally permitted to review your social media profile and posts during the claim investigation process. Facebook and most other social media sites specifically address this point in their terms and conditions. Agreeing to Facebook’s terms and conditions means that any information you post can legally be used against you in your case.
Are any of these tactics unethical?
Perhaps. If an investigator or claims adjuster attempts to send you a friend request to access your information, this could be considered unethical. Trying to contact you is also prohibited if you are a claimant with legal representation. If you feel that an insurance company is engaging in unethical behavior, the best thing to do is reach out to your lawyer for clarification and guidance.
What can you do to prevent your social media activity from harming your case?
Unless you are addicted to social media, it should be pretty easy to prevent social media posts from damaging your car accident case. Here are five simple steps to ensure that your social media activity does not prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve.
1) Avoid posting content to Facebook and other social media sites until your case is resolved
Taking a break from social media until your case is resolved is the best way to prevent insurance companies from using material against you. You should never discuss your accident on social media, as your words could be used against you. It is best to assume that anything you post on social media could be used against you in your case.
2) Adjust your privacy settings
As a Facebook user, you should review your privacy settings periodically to control who can view your profile and activity. This simple step is critical after a car accident, as you can help prevent investigators from knowing your location and seeing your activity. You can also lock your timeline to prevent specific groups of people from seeing your posts.
3) Refrain from being in other people’s photos or videos until your case is behind you
Photos and videos posted shortly after your accident can be especially damaging to your lawsuit. You can imagine how it might look if you decide to recover at your beach house and are shown in a video lounging by the ocean. Even if you didn’t post the content to your profile, it could appear on your feed if one of your contacts decides to post it. Then, opposing investigators in your case could use the video to suggest that you are “faking” your injury to receive money.
4) If you are featured in the content on social media without your permission, call your attorney
While this type of situation is rare, there are times when people are filmed or quoted on social media without their consent. If this happens, ask that the post be removed and contact a lawyer right away.
5) Always follow the guidance of your doctor
If you seek medical care for injuries sustained in a car accident, your doctor will likely provide a treatment plan and recommendations to help your recovery. If your doctor advises you to stay in bed, do not push the envelope and try to go to work, exercise, or go for a walk – even if you are beginning to feel better. If your activity is somehow captured in a social media post, it could impact your ability to be fully compensated for your injuries.
What is the key to a favorable outcome with your car accident case?
An experienced personal injury lawyer is the key to a favorable outcome with your case. In addition to fighting for your rights, a car accident attorney will guide the claim filing process and help you organize documentation that could be pivotal to your case. A lawyer can also help you file an appeal or file a lawsuit if your claim is denied.
With over 90,000 lawyers in the state of Texas, you may wonder who you should choose to handle your case. With over 35 years of experience handling personal injury cases, The Baumgartner Law Firm is a clear choice. Our award-winning personal injury law firm is dedicated to fighting for your rights and securing the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We invite you to contact us for a complimentary case evaluation today.
Call (281) 587-1111 for a FREE consultation on a Texas injury claim.