Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Nearly everyone uses social media on a regular basis. Studies show that the average person spends over two hours on social media every day. Because this is an average, some people spend even more time tweeting, ‘tokking’, and ‘gramming’. As I’ve already mentioned on this blog, using social media while behind the wheel is a dangerous form of distracted driving. But in addition to causing accidents, social media posts can also cause you to severely impact or even lose your personal injury claim. This post will explain how posting on social media after a car accident can hurt your personal injury claim.
A Quick Reminder About Insurance Companies
Insurance ads use cute mascots and heartwarming slogans, but don’t be deceived. After an accident, insurance companies focus on one goal: denying payment through any and all means.
Before making a pay-out, insurance companies must first collect facts, such as who caused the accident, the extent of the injuries, and many more. If an insurance company can avoid paying by saying that you caused the accident rather than their insured, they will do it. If an insurance company can reduce the payment by arguing that your injuries really weren’t that bad, they will do that, too.
The bottom line here is, as explained in an earlier post, that insurance companies can and will use your words against you. If your words can help an insurance company avoid paying money, know that they will try their hardest to use them for that purpose.
How Insurance Companies and Attorneys Find Your Social Media Posts
You might wonder, “How can an insurance company or lawyer even find my social media posts after a car accident?” It’s easier than you might think.
As you probably know, public social media posts can be seen by anyone. So, insurance companies and lawyers can easily find your public social media posts.
You might be thinking, “I keep my social accounts private, so no one can find them.” Believe it or not, lawyers can still access them. Most lawsuits include a process called “discovery.” During discovery, each side can ask the other side for information that they think might help their case. This means that a court can force you to turn over even private social media posts that relate to the accident.
It’s important to note that social media companies store all of your posts – even those you delete. This means that a court can order you or your social media company to give the other side posts that you deleted long ago.
Bottom line: Assume that an insurance company or lawyer working against you will be able to find anything that you post on social media after an accident.
How Attorneys Use Your Social Media Posts Against You
Insurance companies and their lawyers can use your social media posts against you in many ways.
First, lawyers can use your posts to prove that you were at fault. Of course, a post that says you caused the accident will be used against you. But even a simple post like, “He came out of nowhere,” can be used to prove that you were not paying attention. The insurance company can then argue that you played a role in causing the accident and therefore, you should not get any damages.
Second, lawyers will use your posts to prove that your injuries really aren’t that bad. If you claim that you suffered severe back injuries after an accident, insurers will use social media posts that show you playing sports or dancing to prove that you were not hurt. Even a simple post like, “Thank God I’m okay,” can be used to prove that the accident left you unharmed.
Third, lawyers can use your posts to prove that the accident wasn’t traumatic. Most serious car accidents cause both physical and emotional pain. But a person who regularly posts cheerful posts or smiling selfies risks those posts being used to prove that their mental state is just fine.
Finally, and most important, your social media posts can destroy attorney-client confidentiality. Normally, the things that you tell your attorney are completely private and cannot be revealed. But this rule only applies to a fact if you and your lawyer are the only two people who know it. So, if you tell all of your social media followers about the details of your accident, your injuries, or other things, the other side will say that you gave up your right to keep this information private. Then, they will use it against you in court.
These are just a few of the ways that insurance companies or lawyers can use your social media posts against you.
Social Media After a Car Accident: Dos and Don’ts
Clearly, posting on social media after a car accident is risky. Here are some tips to follow.
Rule #1 – Don’t Post Anything!
Remember, even innocent posts can be used against you. Therefore, the best rule is to avoid posting on social media after a car accident. Because we rely on social media to interact with friends and family, this may seem extreme. But no selfie is worth losing thousands of dollars. So, stay off social media until your claim is resolved. If you must post, never mention the accident, and be extremely mindful of the photos you share. Ask your family and friends to do the same.
Rule #2 – Don’t Accept New Friends or Followers
Believe it or not, insurance companies will sometimes have people “follow” you on social media to collect information. If you get a friend or follower request from someone you don’t know in real life, reject it.
Rule #3 – Do Make Your Accounts Private
As I mentioned earlier, lawyers do have ways of finding even private social media posts. But making your accounts private will at least make it harder for them to see your posts.
Rule #4 – Do Not Delete Your Posts!
If you’ve already posted something that might hurt your claim, don’t delete it! This might seem like a natural response, but it is more likely to hurt than help. If you delete posts after the other side asks for them, you could be accused of tampering with evidence. If you think one of your social media posts might hurt your case, rather than deleting it, let your attorney handle it for you.
More Questions About Posting on Social Media After a Car Accident?
For better or worse, social media is a part of our lives. Hopefully, these tips about posting on social media after a car accident have been helpful. If you have more questions about this topic or if you’ve been injured, contact Collins Law, LLC. Our firm will work tirelessly to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Click here or call us at 205-588-1411 to schedule a free consultation.