How Can Social Media Affect a Personal Injury Claim?
Many people use social media to stay in touch with family and friends, reconnect with old friends, and make new friends. Facebook alone has more than two billion worldwide users on its site each month, and that doesn’t count Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or any of the other social media accounts. These numbers just emphasize just how much social media has become intertwined with our daily lives.
But social media can also pose problems for victims who were injured in accidents and are involved in some type of personal injury claim or lawsuit, as a competent personal injury lawyer Memphis, TN, recommends can attest. This is because anything you post, share, or tweet can be used against you by the other side.
When a victim files a claim against an at-fault party for the injuries they suffered in an accident, it is because they are alleging that the accident caused them to suffer losses, both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses and loss of income from being unable to work while they recover. These types of damages have a quantifiable amount, meaning there is an actual dollar amount which is the proof needed for the victim to be reimbursed.
The other types of damages do not have a quantifiable dollar amount and need to be proven and calculated differently. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, emotional anguish, loss of life enjoyment, and loss of companionship. In order to collect damages for these types of losses the victim’s attorney must show that the injuries have negatively impacted their life. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to attempt to get evidence which would contradict the victim’s claim that their life has been affected by the injuries. One popular method that more and more insurance companies are utilizing is through the victim’s social media accounts and postings.
How can my social media be used against me?
Insurance company investigators have become very adept at mining the social media accounts of victims, looking for any type of evidence that could undermine the victim’s case.
For example, a victim who has been suffering from great pain day in, day out, may be finally having a good day. In fact, they are feeling well enough to leave their house and maybe walk to the park, something they haven’t done in months. At the park, the victim takes a selfie and wanting to share with their friends that they are finally having a good day, they post the photo on their Facebook page with the comment “Having a great day!” But the next day, they wake up and are again in pain like they have been since the accident.
Unfortunately, that selfie proclaiming a great day could be grabbed by the insurance company and cause considerable damage to the legitimate claim the victim has. It could even result in the claim being denied or the lawsuit dismissed.
Even if you have your accounts set in private mode, other friends and family may not and they could post photos that you are in or comments that mention you that could also be used against you.
Ideally, you should get completely off of social media until your case has been resolved. If you do decide to stay on, then be very careful about what you post and do not post anything about the accident, your injuries, the claim or lawsuit, or future plans with any settlement money you may get. Also ask friends and family to refrain from posting anything about you, including photos.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Wiseman Bray for their insight into personal injury law.