Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have exploded in popularity over the past several years. These days, it seems as though if you do not have a social media footprint, you are in the minority. In fact, according to a study from the Pew Research centers, approximately 74% of all internet users over the age of 18 use at least one social media site. With tools to share pictures, videos, and our thoughts at a moment’s notice, these websites can provide an unparalleled experience for online communication. However, for those who are going through the personal injury claims process, too much information online could negatively and irreversibly hurt their case.
How Can Using Social Media Hurt Your Claim?
While the online world may have at one point been separate from what happens in the legal world and in the courtroom, those days are long gone. More frequently, information freely posted online by accident victims is being used during personal injury cases and lawsuits. The insurance companies (as well as their legal teams) can comb through online data, searching for any information which may be used to prove, or disprove a claim.
For example, assume that you are seeking compensation for damages related to a broken ankle and you claim that it has prevented you from working. If you then post a picture online of yourself and your family at the park, it may be argued that your damages are not as severe as you claimed. If you are able to get to the park, an insurer might argue, what then prevents you from getting to work? If you have filed a claim, your account of the accident and your life may be examined in great detail by the insurer and any public information may be used against you.
The insurance company may gather information about your claim from any of the following areas:
- Photos and videos
- “Tagged” content
- Profiles and descriptions
- Blog updates and posts
- Status updates
Your Information May Not Be as Private as You Think
Unfortunately, accident victims may discover that information they assumed to be private is actually publically available. While it is true that many private messages may only be accessed through legal tools such as a subpoena or warrant, much of what is posted on blogs and profile pages may be seen by anyone who has an account.
Ensuring that all of your account settings are set to be private can be a great start, but it may not control what your friends and connections post. If you are “tagged” in pictures, videos, or posts, and the content uploader does not share your strict privacy settings, it may be found and viewed by the opposing parties. Furthermore, privacy policies and terms of service on many sites are subject to constant change.
How Can I Protect My Claim?
If you are involved in the personal injury claims process, it is recommended that you stay off social media entirely until your case is concluded. In addition to deleting or deactivating your accounts, there are other steps which may help to protect your information and your claim.
- Do not share any information online regarding your claim
- Ask friends and connections to avoid posting publicly regarding your status
- If you maintain a blog, halt updates
- Check and ensure that any online accounts you do hold are set to private
Contact a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney
The personal injury claims process can be tremendously intricate and there are many potential pitfalls which a claimant may fall victim. If you are seeking to maximize the strength of your claim and avoid setbacks in the process, contact Foley Griffin, LLP. Our Nassau County personal injury attorneys possess more than 75 years of collective experience and can help you to protect the value of your claim. If you have any questions about where you stand in your case or the services that our firm offers, give us a call and speak to our attorneys during a free consultation.
Call (888) 966-8480 or contact us online and discover your options for taking legal action.