Put down that selfie stick! If you’ve been involved in an accident and are pursuing an injury claim, it’s critical you understand the impact social media can have on your case. In fact, a single post or check-in can sink your claim entirely. It’s best just not to mix social media and personal injury claims at all.
Just like many Americans, you probably use social media of some type almost every day. You’re checking in, liking, commenting, tweeting, posting, and otherwise sharing the details of your life with family, friends, and sometimes the world. We all like to think we’ve gotten savvier about the dangers of online interaction, including not-quite-stranger danger and the risks of sharing too much information in the public sphere where current or potential employers can see it. Most people do not consider the way social media can hamper a personal injury claim.
Thankfully, most injury victims only find themselves in need of this information one time; however, this fact makes the information all the more critical. Insurance companies will waste no time in seeking out your online information, and they will hone in on anything they believe will be effective in limiting or denying your claim. If you aren’t wise to this game at the beginning, they may well succeed in their attempts to prevent you from the compensation you deserve.
What Are Insurance Companies Looking For Online?
Insurance companies are looking for any indicator your injury may not exist, may not be as severe as you claim, or may even have been in existence prior to your accident. It’s important to remember they don’t care about the intent of your post. They don’t care about the truth of your post either. All an insurance company needs is information that makes you look bad with regard to your case.
For example, if you are claiming a neck injury and you “check-in” to a dance club, that might raise questions. If the next morning, a friend comments how much fun it was dancing with you all night long, chances are those questions will be coming from both the insurance company and your attorney. Is it possible you went and sat all night, hoping to enjoy the company of friends after lying around injured for weeks? Sure. Could your friend be referring to the silly way she pretended to dance with you while you sat in your chair sipping pineapple juice? Of course. Unfortunately, that little exchange could cost you dearly. It’s safer if all those things happen without sending the information out into the universe for all to see.
When thinking about social media and personal injury claims, understand that old posts can also be an issue. If you’re claiming a head injury causing severe, debilitating headaches, your posts soliciting advice about your terrible migraines last year are not going to help your case. The two may be completely unrelated in reality, but the implication is clear: you were experiencing severe headaches before your accident. All the insurance company sees is an opportunity to discredit the link between the accident and your pain, suffering, and lost wages.
So, They’re Checking ALL My Social Media?
Well, maybe. It’s a simple, quick, and largely free way of avoiding liability and potentially huge costs. The wrong information shared on any social media app or website is dangerous. That said, not all social media carry the same risk. Some apps, like LinkedIn, can be used to find information about injury victims, but due to the app’s purpose and design, most of their million users keep their posts professional.
Facebook, on the other hand, is the app insurance companies are likely to look at first. Why? For starters, there are nearly 1.5 BILLION users. Even Grandma is on Facebook these days, so the odds are greatest that a claimant can be there. With the primary purpose of socializing and with many users employing it as a personal diary of sorts, Facebook is an insurance company’s best friend. And we all know how confusing and complicated their privacy settings can be…chances are some of your information is public and you don’t even know it.
Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are also dangerous for some of the same reasons. Both are designed with personal sharing of information in mind. Pictures and commentary by friends abound, leaving your every action open to interpretation by those who seek to limit the compensation you deserve. Despite having fewer users, other social media such as Reddit, Vine, Tumblr, Flickr, Google+, and Pinterest can also have a negative impact on any personal injury claim you have—it all depends on the information you share, with whom you share it, and how that information can be perceived by others.
If You Share It, They Will Come
It goes without saying you should never attempt to pursue a false claim. Most good personal injury attorneys will find you out long before the insurance companies even get a chance. That said, there are endless ways for innocent information to be used against you even if you have truly been seriously injured in an accident. The key is to control any information available on social media pertinent to your injury and your accident, as well as the information that could be perceived as related to either your injury or accident. Here are five steps you can undertake to help protect yourself:
- Type your name into Google’s search engine and see what comes up. You could have public social media out there that you don’t want anyone to see. You may have forgotten how rad your hair looked in college or how your back hurt every day for a week in 1998, but the internet remembers everything. Everything.
- Remove any old posts that could seem related to your accident or injury in any way. If you do remember your back hurting every day for a week in 1998 and you know you wrote a sonnet about it on MySpace, it’s time to delete, delete, delete.
- Don’t post about your accident or your injury to the web or any social media apps. Just don’t. Save all your photos, videos, and injury journaling for your attorney.
- Raise your privacy settings. Take some time to really get to know how privacy works in your favorite social media apps and increase your privacy settings to ensure the only people who see your information are those you trust.
The Attorneys at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg Can Help
If you are in the middle of a claim and discover something potentially damaging online, consult your lawyer immediately. Though issues with social media and personal injury are relatively new concerns for most law offices over the past 15 years, your attorney will best be able to advise you as to any potential impact or actions you may need to take. Whether you have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, a slip-and-fall, car crash, or other accident, the personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg can help walk you through the complexities of pursuing a claim from the very beginning. Hiring experienced legal representation early can be key and prevent any small, but detrimental, mistakes in the process. To find out how we can help you, call us today at 1-800-LEE-FREE for a completely free consultation.