Many of us communicate with family, friends, online communities, and strangers through daily social media posts without thinking twice about it. But after a car accident, a thorough car accident attorney may warn you against posting on social media until you resolve your injury claim. How seriously should you take this advice? Can posting about what you had for dinner or attending a child’s soccer game really impact your car accident claim?
Social Media is a Treasure Trove of Information
If you’re old enough to remember life before social media, you may recall a time when insurance companies would hire detectives to take secret photos of injury victims engaged in vigorous physical activities, revealing that they weren’t as injured as they claimed. Those who used the system in this way made it even more challenging for truly injured individuals to make successful injury claims. Today, insurance adjusters whose job description requires finding ways to deny claims, don’t have to hire detectives. All too often, a simple browse through social media gives them the tools they need to deny a claim.
After a car accident, a victim’s social media may have a serious impact on their claim for damages. “Damages” in a car accident claim refers to the economic consequences of an injury as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
Even when a car accident victim has a valid claim, an insurance company may protect its profits by using social media posts shared by an injury victim both before and after the accident against them.
How Social Media Posts From BEFORE Your Injury Can Impact Your Claim
When attorneys warn that social media posts provide a wealth of information for insurance adjusters, they aren’t only referring to posts made after the car accident injury. Insurance companies can comb back through years of posts on all platforms to turn up facts and photos that compromise the injury victim’s claims. For example, when making a claim for compensation based on “loss of enjoyment of life” damages after a disabling accident, if the injury victim states that they previously played tennis, but their posts and photos show no indication that they were ever on a tennis court, this could contradict their claim. Old posts may compromise the credibility of an injury victim’s claims.
Alternatively, a search through an injury victim’s past posts from years before the car accident could reveal a previous injury that they could then use to claim as a pre-existing condition that’s the real reason for the victim’s symptoms.
It’s important to avoid combing through your own social media past and deleting posts and photos because that could appear as hiding evidence.
While an injury victim cannot control what they’ve posted in the past—and deleting past posts is a big mistake—it’s important to avoid making claims for damages that aren’t realistic when past posts could contradict the claims.
How Post-Accident Social Media Posts May Be Used Against You
A car accident attorney in New Haven may warn their injury clients to avoid posting on social media during the process of an injury claim because their comments and photos could become evidence against their claims for damages. If an injury victim posts photos of themselves smiling on a beach vacation with their family after making a claim for disabling pain, the photos could be used against them—even if they were actually bravely smiling through their very real pain.
When car accident injury victims post photos of themselves out on the town enjoying activities with friends, the other side could use it as evidence that they aren’t as injured as they claim.
Social media posts can significantly reduce the value of a car accident injury claim or even lead to a complete denial of the claim for damages.
Changing Privacy Settings and Practices on Social Media After a Car Accident
If you really feel you’d like to continue to use social media platforms during a car accident claim for personal injury damages, the following privacy practices can help:
Avoid posting statements like “I’m so glad we’re all okay!” after an accident, because even this innocent comment may be taken out of context to appear as though you previously said that you were fine and now you’re claiming you were injured
Change privacy settings on all accounts to the highest level so only friends and close family members can view your posts
Set privacy settings on any post to prevent your family members and friends from sharing them
Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know personally—insurance adjusters and attorneys for the defense in court cases use this tactic to view a claimant’s posts
Don’t post any photos or comments about your car accident injury claim or lawsuit
Be careful about commenting on the posts of your social media friends because the other side may take a comment you made on someone else’s post out of context to use against you
Never post any information about settlement details or discussions with your lawyer—these could waive attorney/client privilege
Never delete posts during the process of your claim or lawsuit. In some cases, removing evidence is a prosecutable crime. This is true even if the post’s removal only gives the false appearance of deleting evidence
Avoid “checking in” to locations on social media. For example, checking in at a skate park on social media could compromise your injury claim, even if you only go there for the great pizza.
Even simply misworded statements on social media after a car accident may be intentionally used to compromise credibility after a car accident. For example, posting, “I crashed my car yesterday!” can appear as an admission of guilt even if you only meant that you had a car accident.
Is Changing Privacy Settings Enough?
Changing privacy settings on all social media accounts as soon as possible after an accident can help, but the best practice is to stop posting completely or even commenting on friends’ posts. If your claim becomes a lawsuit in court, your social media accounts are subject to subpoena.