Most of our clients have at least one social media account, usually Facebook or Instagram. These sites are convenient ways to keep in touch with friends and family, while also engaging with larger groups of people on topics like sports or politics. According torecent statistics, over 70% of Americans have at least one social media account, and millions have two or more.
However, your social media account could become the focus of your personal injury case if you are not careful. With the rise of social media, many insurance adjusters are now trying to gain access to injured victim’s accounts, which could potentially contain a treasure trove of information. The Glens Fallspersonal injury lawyers at Larson & Gallivan Law need you to know the following about social media and your personal injury case.
Why Insurance Adjusters Want to See Your Social Media Accounts
Personal injury cases typically revolve around two facts:
- Fault for the accident—that is, who is to blame for the collision, fall, or other accident
- Severity of your injuries—how badly you are hurt and how much money you have lost as a result
Many insurance adjusters will try to blame you for your accident or claim you are exaggerating your pain. Your social media account could contain information they will use to advance either claim.
Here are some examples:
- Pictures of you smiling and having a good time. An insurance adjuster might claim these pictures show you are not seriously injured and are exaggerating your injuries.
- Photos of you exercising or playing with children. These pictures could suggest you are not hurt.
- Status updates showing you traveled an hour or more away from home. Again, adjusters might use this information to claim you are not in so much pain.
- Posts in which you describe the accident. An insurance adjuster might seize on language that they argue shows admitting fault for the accident.
- Evidence that you aren’t attending rehab or seeing your doctor. If you are traveling a lot, they might claim this is proof you aren’t really taking your rehab seriously, which they claim is proof you aren’t injured.
- Friends. Insurance adjusters might use your friend list and begin snooping on their social media profiles. They might be looking for pictures of you enjoying yourself, attending a friend’s wedding, and so on.
Of course, there are legitimate reasons you might have a picture. Insurance adjusters can wrench these photos out of context. A picture of you “playing” with your children might consist of you doing nothing but throwing a ball while seated in a chair due to your injuries. Still, it’s helpful not to give them any evidence they can use.
What You Can Do
We recommend that our clients take some simple steps to protect themselves:
- Set your profile to private. This way, an insurance adjuster cannot access your profile.
- Stop accepting friend requests. You never know, an adjuster might have her secretary try to add you as a friend to gain access to your account.
- Don’t post about your accident or injuries. Even after making an account private, there’s no reason to talk about your injuries or the incident that hurt you. If you want to tell people how you are doing, call them on the phone or speak to them in person.
- Avoid deleting pictures or posts. This could qualify as spoliation of evidence and result in sanctions.
- Consult your personal injury lawyer. If you have a question, reach out to your attorney.
Can A Defendant Really Gain Access to My Social Media Account?
Yes. They will certainly try. In most personal injury cases there is a discovery period, where each side can request information from the other. We have seen insurance adjusters ask for permission to look at a social media account.
A defendant or his insurer could even ask a judge to order you to give them permission. If you refused, then you could face a contempt of court hearing.
Of course, each case is unique, and the topic of social media never arises in some cases. However, we want our clients to be aware of the risks so they can protect themselves. It is better to wait until your case is finished before you start posting about your injuries.
Contact Our Glens Falls Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you call 518-862-8799, we can walk you through what to expect with a personal injury claim. Larson & Gallivan Law has obtained favorable settlements for hundreds of clients. Let us help you too.