Once you realize that you need to file a personal injury claim, it is time to get off social media — immediately. If that seems unreasonable to you, then it means you do not realize that your social media posts, even if they are only accessible to close friends and family, can be used to tear apart your personal injury claim and cheat you out of the compensation you deserve.
The Pervasiveness Social Media
According to Statista, 79% of the US population (247 million individuals) has at least one social media profile. And not all those users are casual; in fact, social media addiction has become a recognized problem in the US. Whether it is a more professional channel such as LinkedIn or other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, people love social media. However, insurance companies involved in personal injury claims have come to love social media as well. It has provided them with a new weapon in the war against fraud — a weapon that can easily destroy your personal injury claim even though it may be perfectly legitimate.
How Insurance Companies Have Weaponized Social Media
Suppose you filed a personal injury claim after a serious fall at a local restaurant. You injured your back severely and have not been able to work. However, on your social media, you post a picture holding your 3-year old nephew and smiling. What looks to you like a moment of fun with a young relative will look to the insurance company like someone faking a back injury: they have no way of knowing that you put him down seconds later and had to sit down to recover, or that the picture in question was taken before your injury.
Perhaps you took to Facebook to discuss your accident, but you did not provide all the details about what happened. When the insurance company sees your posts, they notice some discrepancies between what you said in your official statement and what you said on Facebook. These discrepancies can be used to cast a shadow of doubt on your entire claim.
Perhaps you have claimed severe depression after the injury. On your Instagram account, however, is a picture of you out with friends for lunch, everyone smiling and having a good time. The insurance company will look at the image and say that no depressed person would feel well enough to smile and eat out with friends. There is no way for them to know from that posting alone that it took two months for your friends to finally convince you to leave your dark apartment and join them for a short social outing. Besides, nobody posts images of themselves crying alone in a dark room on social media even if that is what they are doing.
Perhaps you go on a Twitter rant about how a local trampoline park was a major disappointment, failing to mention that your children were the participants and you simply watched. In the eyes of an insurance company that is actively looking for any way they can to discredit your claim, this can be twisted to prove that you are perfectly able bodied — well enough, in fact, to jump around on trampolines!
Your Social Media Posts Will Be Judged at Face Value
In reality, many people use social media as a means to present their life as one full of happiness and enjoyment even when the opposite is true. However, when someone from the insurance company is scrutinizing your posts, they will take them at face value. If they see pictures of you involved in physically demanding activities, they will not assume that you have posted an older picture to cover up the fact that you have not been doing too well lately. They will say that, based on your social media accounts, you are engaging in activities that are at odds with your personal injury claim. Even happy birthday messages can be indicative of an extensive social life, which does not fit with a claim of loss of enjoyment of life. Photos that show you smiling and laughing or even posts that include smiling emojis can be used against you.
Private Can Become Public
You might argue that the vast majority of what you post on social media has privacy settings that limit access to specially chosen friends or family. While that may be true, you must keep in mind that social media companies can receive court orders that make your private posts open to the scrutiny of the insurance company lawyers. That means private posts and communications can quickly turn into public posts and communications. Also note that any new friend, connection, or follower requests, no matter how harmless they may seem, could be an attempt by the insurance company to secretly gain access to your posts.
If you plan to file or have already filed a personal injury claim, shut down all your social media activity. If you have information to share with friends and family, use phone conversation or text messages but avoid any social media platforms and tools. Even if you have strict privacy settings, the insurance company can obtain a court order that will make all your social media posts open and available to the insurance company lawyers. In addition, accept no new requests to connect on social media. Anything you post can be weaponized to destroy your personal injury claim and stop you from receiving the compensation that the law says you deserve. Delete any posts you may have made since your accident, and do not post any further until any and all agreements have been signed.
Contact Donaghue & Labrum
If you or a loved one has been injured and is considering a personal injury claim, contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Donaghue & Labrum to find out what your options are. We are renowned for aggressively representing clients both in and out of court. With decades of experience in personal injury claims, we will fight to get you the compensation that you have a legal right to receive. We can also help you navigate potential issues such as social media presence and the insurance company’s attempts to tear down your claim. Contact us today!