The internet is not private. If you are an accident victim making a personal injury claim, you can be sure the insurance company is searching the internet for evidence to use against you. As a personal injury attorney, I have seen claims reduced or denied based upon information an insurance company found on someone’s social media page.
According to the American Bar Association, courts are generally rejecting the idea that someone’s social media accounts are private, and are allowing insurance companies to use relevant victims’ social media posts against them.
Posts Can Imply Accident Injuries Are Exaggerated
Social media is being used to challenge the assertions accident victims make about how badly they are hurt. All personal injury claims include details about the injured person’s physical pain and suffering, as well as any emotional distress. If someone’s injuries are limiting his or her ability to move, are interfering with the performance of daily activities, and/or are preventing him or her from working, that is spelled out in the claim and used to determine the appropriate amount of compensation.
Insurance companies, and their attorneys, routinely hire investigators to comb through social media posts to find proof that injuries are being exaggerated. So what if they find a Facebook picture of an accident victim skiing or dancing? The insurance company is sure to reduce or deny compensation to the victim.
The National Post reported a recent case where a woman was denied compensation for emotional distress after posts on her Facebook account “showed the plaintiff in numerous social settings — drinking and river tubing with friends, attending costume parties, performing at a karaoke competition — which were “completely inconsistent” with someone suffering from psychological trauma.”
I tell all my clients to stop posting pictures or personal information to their social media accounts while their case is pending. I also ask them to remove any prior posts about their accident or injuries. This includes videos or photos, and any related comments about them. In addition, they need to stop their friends from posting pictures of them, or information about them.
Even postings that provide a very limited glimpse into someone’s life can negatively impact a victim’s credibility in a personal injury case.
Although social media can be devastating for accident victims, it can sometimes be helpful if the person at fault for an accident posts incriminating photos or information such as:
- A hit-and-run driver who posts pictures showing damage to his or her car, or who describes the accident.
- A distracted driver whose social media account shows he or she was posting when an auto accident occurred.
- A drunk driver who posts photos on social media sites showing he or she was drinking at a party shortly before an auto accident.
A personal injury attorney can help injured accident victims navigate the complexities of social media evidence.
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Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation to speak with a Long Beach personal injury attorney to learn how I can help you if you’ve been harmed. You will be under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover compensation for your losses.
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