Social Media Posts Can Harm Your Personal Injury Case
Insurance companies are taking advantage of the rise of social media to prevent insurance fraud. In some cases they have caught people who have claimed to be paralyzed in an accident posting photos of their latest rock climbing adventure or someone who claimed an injury at a store posting social media information that places them in an entirely different location at the time of the alleged injury. When insurance adjusters are able to prevent blatant fraud by looking at public social media accounts, there is an obvious benefit. However, adjusters are also using social media to bully victims and reduce the amount of settlement money offered.
What Can an Insurance Adjuster Access?
There are no laws or restrictions that prevent an insurance adjuster from digging back through your social media posts and reposts. One step you can take to make it more difficult for them to find information about you after a personal injury claim is to make all of your accounts private. This is not a full-proof solution though. Some adjusters will try to become your friend on the platform to gain access to your posts and insurance companies can request social media material during discovery before a trial.
Ways Social Media Posts Can Harm A Claim
According to BrandWatch, the average person has 7.6 social media accounts. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, personal blogs, and more. Often, individuals post more positive experiences on social media. For instance, Pew Research found that 49 percent of teens are willing to post about their accomplishments on social media while only 13 percent say they will ever post about personal problems. While your intent after a severe injury may be simply to forget how painful and awful your life is by engaging on social media and trying to seem positive, the insurance companies are likely to find that evidence and use it against you. Examples of how they can dig through social media include:
- If you post photos that show you hiking, cycling, or dancing when you are claiming an injury that is incapacitating, the insurance company will use that as evidence that you are not as hurt as you are stating. For instance, you may have a traumatic brain injury that leaves you exhausted and unable to function for most of the day, but you may have gone for a 30 minute hike and returned home to nap immediately. That photo of you mid-hike will be used to show you are doing much better than you claim.
- If you are posting photos of a behavior, such as drinking frequently, the insurance company may try to use that as evidence that you could have been drinking while driving and should be held partially liable for your injuries.
- You may want to reassure friends and family that you are doing well by writing a positive blog post, but posts that show you are healing and keep a positive mindset may be used by insurance companies to prove that your pain and suffering claim is overblown.
- If you are seeking lost wages in your personal injury claim, but post pictures on social media of you doing manual work and although you may have had significant help in completing the project, the insurance company will try to prove you could have been back at work sooner.
- Even if you do not post, you must consider what is posted about you on social media. Even a simple photo of your smiling at a Fourth of July party that is taken by a friend could be used against you. Avoid being in photos that friends intend to post and make sure they have your consent prior to naming you in social media posts.
Contact the Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro P. A. to Learn More
At the Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro P.A., our first recommendation to clients is to avoid posting on social media for the period of time between your accident and when your personal injury case is settled. However, we understand that social media is an outlet for many people to connect with friends and family who are not close by and that it is important to share your healing with those you love. At the very least we recommend you avoid sharing only positive posts and ask others to avoid tagging you in their posts. Be honest about your struggles to recover and remember that whatever you post could be used against you later in settlement discussions, mediation, or during a trial. The qualified Naples personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. can help you with your specific social media questions when we take on your case. Contact us at 239-649-8050 to schedule your free consultation today.