How Facebook Could Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim

For many of us, Facebook has become the most widely used way to communicate with friends and family. Posting pictures, providing status updates, wishing friends Happy Birthday – it is how we share what is happening in our lives and stay connected. When something good happens, or something not-so-good, sharing it on Facebook is how we let people know, and it is also how many get support and encouragement from their circle of friends. However, if you have been injured by a negligent driver and wish to seek compensation from them, you might want to consider taking a break from online socializing and engaging with people on Facebook. You can never be certain who may have access to information you post and what information other people post about you. If you share too much or the wrong personal information, it could hurt your claim for compensation.

DO NOT Post About Your Accident

As soon as something happens, some may feel a reaction to share the news and to post about it on their Facebook page. Our advice is to resist the urge to do this because any information posted will be twisted and used against you in the personal injury claim.

Consider the following post:

“I just got hit by some kid speeding through an intersection. Pretty shaken up but I am ok! Which is more than I can say for my car. Just waiting for a tow truck then headed home. Can’t wait to get home and relax with a glass of wine!”

You may think that comment is harmless enough – after all it does not contain any significant details about the accident, but there are many things in that message that could be used by an insurance adjuster or defense counsel against you.

Perhaps this statement could be used to lead someone to believe that you had no injuries, since you just said you were “ok” and went home rather than to the hospital? What if the insurance company implies that you were more concerned with drinking alcohol than getting medical care? How will that affect your pain and suffering? What if they imply that you were only concerned about your car?

The public simply does not realize how much damage posting on Facebook can cause their personal injury claim. The truth is Facebook is accessible to nearly everyone, which makes it easy for insurance adjusters to review your information and activities, as well as comments and reactions your friends and family may post. And if an insurance adjuster finds something that could harm your case, you can be sure that they will use it.

Did you know there are over 182 million Facebook users in the US? Chances are very good that if you post, someone that you don’t want to see it, will see it. And, the insurance companies have tricks to gain access. We have found investigators “friend” your friends to gain access to your account.

Think about the two scenarios below, and how an insurance adjuster might use these situations to cast doubt on the allegations in “Susan’s: lawsuit.”

  • A picture of Susan was posted showing her at a family picnic, a week after the car accident. She is holding her granddaughter on her lap and smiling.
  • A friend posts on Susan’s timeline, asking how she is doing since the accident. She replies, “Good …feeling better!”

These posts are not clear indicators that Susan was not injured, or that she lied about the extent of her injuries. She may have only been at that picnic for 15 minutes and in bed the remainder of the day. But the picture does not give any indication of that. And Susan should not expect that she can simply explain the context of the post. It will be open to anyone’s interpretation.

How many times a day does someone casually ask how you are doing? Almost every time you greet someone. And we frequently reply with a brief “good”, “not bad.” We do not usually provide a response with great detail about how we are. But again, Susan’s comment could be misconstrued and used against her.

When you’ve been in an accident, avoid posting anything on social media. You can’t predict how your posts or pictures can be used against you. It is a chance that is not worth taking.

DO Ask Friends and Family Not to Post Anything About You

Be sure to talk with your friends and family members that use Facebook and ask that they do not post anything about you, your accident or the case. You do not want your friend telling anyone about your accident, sharing information about your lawsuit or saying that you have “hired a good lawyer to go after that jerk!” You also do not want family or friends posting pictures or comments of your activities. Use good judgment and remember it is only temporary.

DO NOT Use Messenger to Share Information

While private chats in Messenger do not have the same risk of being seen or found publicly that Facebook posts have, your messages can still be used against you if they are demanded as part of the discovery process. Courts have been very hesitant to restrict access to social media outlets in the discovery process. There have been several cases where a court has ruled that Facebook posts and chats do not have an expectation of privacy, and that it is considered a public activity.

It is best to avoid discussing your accident and personal injury case on Facebook or any other social media at all.

Here are a few Facebook “Dos” and “Do Nots” you can do to help your case.

DO Review and Adjust Your Privacy Settings

Most people are aware that even if you set the strictest Facebook privacy settings for your account, anything posted online has the possibility of not remaining private. You should be cautious whenever you post online, and remember that there is always a risk that information could one day become public. But there are things you can do to minimize that risk. We recommend that you review your Facebook privacy settings and make adjustments as needed.

The following settings will give you strong privacy protection. To change your Facebook privacy settings, go into Settings & Privacy, then choose Privacy Shortcuts:

Who can see your future posts? – Select “Friends” (or use “Friends Except” to make exclusions)

Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in – Enable

Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public? – Limit Past Posts (if you’re comfortable doing so)

Who can send you friends requests? – Select “Friends of Friends”

Who can see your friends lists? – Select “Only Me”

Who can look up your email? – Select “Friends” or “Only Me”

Who can look up your phone? – Select “Friends” or “Only Me”

Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile? – Select “No”

Take a Facebook Break

We understand how difficult it might sound – taking a complete break from using Facebook and other social media apps. But if you want to give yourself the very best chance of getting the compensation you deserve after an accident, stay off Facebook and other social media sites.

Do Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight to protect your rights. Our firm has decades of experience handling everything from the simplest cases to the most complex. Contact us today so that we may answer your questions, help you recover the compensation that you deserve. We never charge a fee unless we win and we work hard to make sure each and every client gets the attention they deserve.