Using social media is very common in today’s society, and some people share everything that happens in their lives in great detail on their social media platforms without a second thought. Although this may not necessarily have negative effects in a person’s everyday life, oversharing on social media after a car accident can damage a personal injury case.
A person who is seriously injured in a car accident may have the urge to post about the crash in order to seek support from friends and family members. However, posting about the details of the accident, the frustration of the claim process, and other facts or opinions about the crash can affect how an insurance company handles your settlement negotiations.
The insurance company can get access to your public social media accounts in an attempt to gain more information about you and undermine your case. If you post negative opinions on the insurance company, it can lead the insurance company to claim that you are negotiating in bad faith. This can stall the negotiations and even reduce the amount the insurance company is willing to offer in a settlement, or prolong the process before finalizing the settlement.
Pictures and comments posted on social media can also be used in a trial or during negotiations to weaken your case. Even if you think you are being careful with your posts, a defense attorney can use the information to argue that your claim is either exaggerated or outright false. If you post pictures of yourself hiking in rugged terrain or engaging in other sporting activities, the defense could argue that your injuries from the car accident are not as serious as you are representing. This is also true of posting pictures of you having a great time partying with friends when seeking compensation for the emotional impact of the accident. This could lead to you receiving less for your injuries.
Posting statements that explain how you were feeling at the time of the accident, for example, that you were distracted because of personal issues in your life, or because you were in the middle of responding to a text message, can also spell disaster for your claim. These kinds of statements can be taken as admissions and used to argue that you were distracted and caused the accident. The defense could also argue that you were partially negligent and should not recover as much money as you would have if you weren’t at fault.
Posting about your medical condition and examinations, or about conversations with your attorney, can destroy the protections of confidentiality that you would have when communicating with your doctor or lawyer. You should never post about your attorney’s assessments of the case, or his advice to you on any issue regarding your claim. Confidentiality allows a person to keep certain information from being requested or used in court. However, if confidentiality is waived by posting about these conversations online, the information can be used by the defense to defeat your claim in court.
Even after the case is finalized or settlement discussions are completed, you should be careful about what you post online. Although rare, if your settlement comes with provisions requiring non-disclosure of the terms, posting about the settlement could violate these provisions. A violation could come with a steep monetary penalty.
You can also take steps to ensure that your social media accounts are set to private, with anything you post being viewed by people who are your friends. If you can further restrict which friends see specific posts, you should do so. However, being private does not always ensure that the insurance company cannot get access to your social media account through other means. If you do not know how to set your privacy settings, the University of Texas at Austin’s Center For Identity provides a summary of how you can adjust your privacy settings on some of the most popular social media websites.
One way the insurance company can get access to what you are posting is through sending you a friend request. You should be careful about adding any new friends while your case is pending. Even people with familiar names or who claim they went to school with you could be sent to check out your page and look for incriminating evidence. You should not add anyone who works for the insurance company or its defense attorneys as friends. While the insurance company may seek to subpoena information about your social media posts, you are under no obligation to give them access to your page without a court order. It is best to limit your social media circle while you have a pending claim instead of expanding it.
In addition to being aware of what you put on your account, you also have to take care to ensure you are aware of what other people are putting about you online. If your friends can tag you on photos or posts, and the information they put on their pages could paint a negative picture of you, you should talk to your friends about not tagging you or asking you questions about the accident online. In addition, you can change your own settings so as to limit other people’s ability to tag you on photos and posts.
If you are unsure about how much of your accident you can post about online, you should seek the guidance of an experienced attorney. An attorney cannot advise you to delete posts that you already have on your account after the case has begun, as this can be considered destruction of evidence. However, if you have doubts about what you are about to post, do not post it at all.
If you suffered serious injuries in a car accident, you can seek compensation from the driver who caused the crash. Instead of trying to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on your own, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation on your case. To schedule a consultation with our highly respected Memphis car accident attorney, contact the Law Offices of David E. Gordon today.