Today, over 70% of the country uses social media daily. In a world where social media has become a platform to share even the smallest everyday occurrences, it’s normal for the victim of a major accident to want to post their story online. But when you’re in the process of filing a personal injury claim, sharing your status on social media can seriously hurt your claim.
We’ve compiled a list of six important social media tips for personal injury claimants. If you have questions about a legal matter, please contact our Jackson, MS law firm. A qualified personal injury attorney from Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC can walk you through everything you need to know about filing an injury claim in Mississippi.
How Can Social Media Affect Your Personal Injury Case?
Why is it so important to be careful about social media use during a personal injury case? When you file a personal injury claim with the defendant’s insurance company, you as the plaintiff are asking to be compensated for the losses the defendant’s negligence caused. But as a for-profit business, the insurance company’s goal is to reduce your compensation and protect their bottom line.
Insurance companies can lower payouts by using evidence to:
- Deny the defendant’s liability,
- Prove you were more at fault for the accident than you were, or
- Show that your injuries and losses were not as serious as you claim.
Oftentimes, the strongest evidence against your claim comes from you. Your words or actions can easily be twisted and used against you in a personal injury claim. One small mistake, and the insurance company has a reason to deny you thousands of dollars. Like it or not, you’re being watched. And the easiest way for an insurance company to keep an eye on you is through your online presence.
Top Tips for Using Social Media During a Personal Injury Claim
Before you post anything on your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or another account, remember this: social media posts are admissible in court. Anything you post online can be used as evidence in a personal injury case. Even private messages can be obtained and produced as proof. While you may think a post is harmless, you never know how an insurance company can take your words or photos out of context.
Here are our top six tips for using social media during a personal injury claim.
Tip #1: If Possible, Avoid Social Media Altogether
No matter how careful you are, there are dangers of using social media during a car accident case or another type of personal injury case. If it’s possible, we recommend staying off social media entirely until your case is resolved. This includes both posting and commenting on others’ posts. Even a simple “like” of a friend’s story can tell an insurance company what you were doing at a given moment.
Tip #2: If You Can’t Stay Off Social Media, Change Your Settings
We know it’s not reasonable to expect that every person can abandon their online life completely for the months it will take their case to reach an outcome. If you are someone who needs to use social media for work or personal reasons, change your privacy settings for the duration of your personal injury case. Keep all communications private and accessible only to those you trust.
Regardless of your privacy settings, it’s still advisable to follow all social media tips for personal injury claimants—even when sending private messages and DMs.
Tip #3: Avoid Mentions of Your Accident, Injuries, or Claim
After an accident, your first inclination may be to hop online and let everyone know you’re okay. But if you’re involved in legal proceedings, you should never use a social media platform as a way to update friends and family. Calling or sending a text message to loved ones is a much safer way to keep those you care about in the loop.
You might think that your post can’t possibly be misconstrued or used against you, but insurance companies can be ruthless. Under no circumstances should you post anything related to your accident, injuries, or personal injury claim.
As the plaintiff, you should never use social media to:
- Apologize for the accident
- Blame the other party
- Post an angry rant about the situation
- Discuss how you’re feeling (physically or emotionally) after the accident
- Show pictures of the accident scene or your injuries
- Send status updates after a doctor’s appointment
- Write messages that could imply your post-accident state of mental health
- Tell others about your medications, therapy, rehabilitation, or treatment plan
- Talk about your healing journey
Tip #4: Limit the Activities You Show Yourself Doing
Posting about an activity can be seen by an insurance company as evidence that your injuries aren’t real or aren’t serious. It’s not difficult for an insurer to take a social media post and claim that it contradicts your testimony. For example, if your personal injury claim states that you suffered a broken ankle, a posted photo showing you hiking with friends could be a reason to deny your claim.
Even a post that seems insignificant can be harmful. For example, you may mention something you saw while waiting in line to pick up your kids from school. That simple statement can call into question your ability to drive a car, why you weren’t at home resting, whether you were using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle, and other issues that can damage your personal injury claim.
Tip #5: Be Aware of Times and Locations
A social media post that doesn’t explicitly show you partaking in an activity can still give the insurance company information they can use to devalue your claim. You should never post at a time when you should be in the hospital or at an appointment or from a location that shouldn’t be accessible to you in your condition. A photo of other people at a party, sports event, concert, or outdoor gathering posted on your account suggests that you were also in attendance to take the picture.
Additionally, be wary of check-ins on Facebook, Foursquare, SignUpGenius, VolunteerSignup, or other platforms—whether you actually attended the event or not. These records can show that you participated in an activity like a fitness class or volunteer clean-up outing. If you registered for an event that coincided with a doctor’s appointment or physical therapy session, the insurance company can see this as evidence that you weren’t following through with your health care regimen.
Tip #6: Be Careful of Comments and Posts Made by Other People
Your social media account is not the only place that can be mined for information. Insurance companies may turn to the accounts of your friends and relatives to gather information that can be used to discredit your testimony. Advise other people to avoid discussing your situation on their own social media accounts or making comments about your condition on yours.
Keep in mind that all the social media tips for personal injury claimants we’ve already discussed still apply to comments you make on other people’s posts.
Learn How To Protect Yourself When Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Insurance companies take advantage of the fact that most people aren’t aware of how closely they will be monitored after filing a personal injury claim. What may seem like an invasion of privacy is common practice in the insurance industry. Many injured plaintiffs do not know how their seemingly innocuous actions harm their personal injury claim.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from underhanded and dishonest insurance company tactics. With an experienced professional on your side, you can rest assured knowing that your legal representative will advocate for your rights. Insurance companies pay attention when they know a plaintiff is represented by a personal injury lawyer. Contact the law office of Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC for a free consultation to discuss how we can help protect you.