Lessons Learned: Social Media Mistakes To Avoid After An Accident
When an insurance company learns that you are making a claim for personal injuries following a car accident, one of the first things they will begin to do is search for any public information about you that you may not even know about. Posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin that you are vacationing in Costa Rica and zip lining through the jungle? Riding a bike on the Venice boardwalk? At the gym exercising and posting your workouts?
The insurance company’s only goal is to pay the least amount of money on any given claim. Their entire objective is to delay, deny, and defend the claim. When their claims department begins to investigate the claim and finds your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Linkedin accounts they will snoop around to locate damaging information and you’d never know. Later on during a litigation when you are deposed and asked how your life was affected and you answer you couldn’t go on walks, go to the gym, or vacation anymore after the accident, their lawyers will attack credibility by showing you posts you made that contradict testimony given at a later time.
The best course of action is to keep your life private during your personal injury case. Until the case is resolved, we recommend you make all social media pages private and to not accept any friend requests unless you personally know the persons making such requests. Furthermore, be mindful about who you speak to and what information you disclose. A friendly conversation amongst family and friends may later hurt your claims.
What Should You Do – or Not Do?
Here are some tips on what you can do to protect yourself and your car accident claim.
1. Don’t Share Details About Your Accident
Being injured in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. It is natural for people to want to share details on their Facebook or Instagram not just about the accident itself, but also their injuries and information about how they are progressing with their recovery. Good rule of thumb is to never discuss your car accident or post any information about it on social media.
Furthermore, although your attorney will know your pain and suffering and how badly you were injured, anyone who sees you post about happy and fun events will undoubtedly question whether your claims of being injured or your life being impacted negatively have merit. The insurance company may use your social media posts as evidence that your pain and suffering claim isn’t as serious as you are making it out to be. Therefore, it’s best to let your attorney handle how your claim will be presented to the insurance company and to keep information off social media throughout the pendency of your case.
2. Do Not Post Photos or Videos Pertaining to the Accident
We always recommend you take photos and videos of the car accident while at the scene. This is a very important step to never miss. If you are involved in a car accident, after dialing 911 and reporting the crash, make sure you use your cell phone to take pictures of the cars, where they came to rest, all the property damages, and identifying information for all the drivers. You need to exchange and receive all driver licenses, registrations, and proof of insurance from all parties involved. Take videos of the scene and document whether any factors other than the drivers could have been responsible for the car accident. For example, line of sight issues, burnt traffic lights, and objects in the roadway. Also, document the presence of video surveillance that could You may have the urge to post images of your damaged car or photos showing your injuries. Share this information with your personal injury attorney only. Don’t post photos or videos of the crash on social media.
3. Do Not Share Injury Information Online
Once the dust settles, you will begin to feel pain likely while still at the scene of the car accident. Take photos and videos of all visible personal injuries you have sustained, but do not post those on social media. Especially important is to refrain posting photos or updates about your medical condition, doctor’s visits, or medical procedures you may have. Don’t list medications or medical equipment you’ve had to use. If you are raising money with a GoFundMe campaign or any other type of crowd-funding campaign, put minimum details about the accident and your injuries, as this information may be used against you.
4. Make Sure Family Members Don’t Make Social Media Mistakes
While you may not post about your accident or injuries online, others might post things about you. For example, if you attend a party or gathering, a friend might take a photo of you and post it on their Facebook feed. Let people know in advance that you do not want photos of you “tagged” or posted anywhere online. If you are dancing with your friends, it may seem harmless at that time. But what about during your deposition when you are laying out how badly you were hurt and how much pain and suffering you’ve had since the crash. The insurance company lawyers love cross-examining witnesses with photos posted on social media that contradict the extent or severity of their claimed injuries. We always say that when your claim is opened, you should act as if you are being followed by private investigators and be on your best behavior.
5. Keep Track of All Your Social Media Accounts
An important tip that we provide to our clients is to keep a track of your social media accounts to make sure no private information is being posted about you on social media. Today, most of us have many social media accounts, which serve different purposes. No matter the use, it’s important that you login and set your privacy settings to private so outside investigators from the insurance company can’t access your information. If you have posted anything relevant to your car accident, don’t delete that information without consulting with your attorney first. There are consequences for destroying evidence and spoiling things that could be harmful to your case. Talk to your personal injury lawyer first about how to deal with these issues involving your car accident so you get the best advice and best result when it comes time to settle.
6. Be Careful With “Check-ins” On Social Media
It might seem harmless to let your Facebook friends and followers know where you’re eating lunch, or watching a movie during the weekend. Some sites such as Foursquare and Facebook can show the public where you are and in what activities you are participating at any given time. However, if you claimed to have suffered an injury that limits your mobility, “checking in” to the gym on Foursquare might result in problematic and contradictory evidence. Keep the record clean by not posting or checking in anywhere during your car accident case. Personal injury cases are scrutinized by the insurance companies. That check in could cost you a few thousand dollars when it’s time to discuss money.
7. Never Post Regrets or Apologies
As personal injury lawyers, we often advise clients never to admit fault or apologize to anyone after a car accident. This is because you don’t know all the facts until a complete investigation has been completed. This applies to social media posts as well. For example, even a simple statement such as “I wrecked my car,” may imply liability. Never use words like: “I’m sorry,” or “It was my fault,” when commenting on social media after your accident. These simple words can drastically reduce the amount of your settlement.
8. Don’t Delete Anything
Do not second-guess yourself and delete posts if you feel you have made social media mistakes. It is very likely that the insurance adjuster or defense attorney already has a screenshot of your posts. If it is discovered that you deleted something, you may incur legal trouble for destroying evidence, or negative optics if the case goes to a jury trial. Better practice is to not post anything in the first place. If a record is created, better to leave alone than to tamper with evidence.
9. Guard Your Privacy at All Times
Be sure to set all social profiles to private because it makes finding your posts more difficult and limits access to your accounts. Ask your friends and family members to tighten up their privacy settings so no one can reach your information through them. However, it is important to remember that doing so doesn’t make your information impossible to obtain. If you wish to be safer, delete your accounts altogether or stay completely away from social media.
Do not accept any friend requests or “follows” from people you don’t know. This is particularly true when you are waiting to resolve your car accident claim. You never really know who is behind a social media profile. Insurance companies and defense lawyers often enlist individuals directly connected with the case to “following” or “friending” an injured plaintiff on social media.
10. Talk to Your Car Accident Lawyer
The most important step you can take if you have been injured in a car accident is to contact an experienced car accident attorney who will fight to protect your rights every step of the way. If you have any concerns or questions about your social media accounts or postings after an accident, do not hesitate to ask your lawyer.
At The Shirvanian Law Firm our knowledgeable car accident lawyers can guide you through what can be a complex process and help you avoid pitfalls, like social media mistakes, that may jeopardize your claim.
Call us at (877) 809-4223 for a free consultation.