Most of my clients have at least one social networking account such as a Facebook page or Twitter handle. While these social networking sites are a great way to stay connected to friends and family and catch up on current events, they are also an excellent way for insurance companies to learn things about you that can damage your case.
Knowing how to manage your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn profiles while you are navigating the insurance claim process or engaged in litigation related to your accident is crucial to your case. You must pay close attention to your social media profiles during this time to protect your right to just compensation.
How Is My Insurance Claim or Lawsuit Connected to My Facebook Profile?
When you’ve been in a car accident, one of the first things your lawyer will do is set up an insurance claim to put the insurance company on notice that you’ve been hurt. This is how your attorney will determine whether there was valid insurance coverage and how much money is available to cover your injuries.
However, once the claim has been set up, one of the first things the insurance adjuster will do is run a Google search of your name to dig up as much dirt as they can to defend the case. They will identify your social media profiles, YouTube channel, TikTok, and other online activities, and they will analyze them in an attempt to build a case against you. You read that right—they will build a case against you, despite their policyholder hurting you.
The insurance companies don’t want to pay out more than they have to for an injury claim, regardless of the facts of the case. They want to reduce the money damages due to victims in any way possible, protecting their company’s bottom line. In some cases, this could include using your social media or other online posts to convince the jury your injuries were not severe or there are other issues with your case.
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Social Media Statuses and Online Posts Can Affect Your Injury Case
Insurance adjusters are highly trained to make victims of car accidents look bad in front of a judge or jury. Even seemingly innocent pictures or posts on Facebook or Instagram can destroy your credibility—and your case—when they are taken out of context or twisted by the insurance company in court.
I once had a client who was badly hurt when a drunk driver hit him. He had cuts and bruises all over his face, and the accident was obviously not his fault. Unfortunately, the insurance adjuster found a YouTube video my client posted of himself bragging about how he was going to get a ton of money from the accident.
This video made him go from looking like an innocent victim to looking like someone who was just using his injuries to make a quick buck. It made it very difficult for me to negotiate his settlement and would have been terrible if it had been played in front of a jury or judge. This is just one example of the many times I have had clients whose online activity has come back to haunt their case.
Even Unrelated Posts Can Cost You
It is not just avoiding posting public videos about your injuries that you need to avoid. The insurance adjuster will pay close attention to your activities on the day of the incident and in the weeks following. I have had clients whose cases were jeopardized by a picture or video they were tagged in that showed them dancing or engaging in other physical activities while they were recovering.
Something as simple as posting about moving furniture, going on a day trip with your friends, or walking around a shopping mall could be used against you. The insurance company doesn’t care that you were having a good day or were in pain for days afterward because of your injuries. A judge and jury may not see it that way. It is best to avoid posts that could cause anyone to second-guess your injuries.
That said, your attorney can offer more guidance on what you should not post about online. Your accident, those involved, and details of your claim are definitely off-limits until the case is over and an agreement or verdict is reached.
What Can I Do to Ensure Social Media doesn’t Hurt My Claim?
Many people cannot delete or deactivate their social media while their claim is underway. Fortunately, there are many ways you can still use social media sites without hurting your image or your accident case.
- Use privacy settings. Most sites have settings to make your posts or profile only visible to the people you know. Use them! Be careful who you add as a friend and allow to follow you.
- Watch what you post. It may seem obvious, but do not post ANYTHING about an accident you’ve been in or your injuries due to the accident. Also: controversial political opinions, criminal activity, drug and alcohol use, and profanity or obscenity are all things that can come back to haunt you if you have an injury case. They can easily color how the judge or jury sees you when you go to court.
- Use an alias. If you just have to post photographs or statuses that might look bad to an adjuster, try using a fake name so they can’t find you. Many people simply use their first and middle names on social networking sites to avoid being found by the wrong people. If you choose this option, be careful to keep your alias secret and not give away your identity.
Try an experiment. Google yourself. Type your name (and nicknames) into any internet search engine and see what comes up. Imagine how the results would look to someone who has never met you and whose only job is to make you look bad.
Then, take the necessary steps to clean up your online identity. You can bet the insurance adjuster will Google you as soon as they get your name and information.
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Your Attorney Can Offer More Advice and Guidance to Protect Your Rights
When you work with an attorney from the Morris Bart law firm, we will offer you advice and assistance in protecting your rights and getting the most out of your case as the facts and circumstances allow. We represent clients in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We provide free consultations for accident victims.
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