The dangers of social media networks and your personal injury case

INSURANCE ADJUSTERS HAVE THE INTERNET TOO!

Most people at one time or another have heard the advice “Do not put anything in an email or online that you would not want on the front page of the newspaper”. This is never truer than when you are bringing a personal injury claim. The insurance company WILL search for your online profiles. More than once, we have received a call from an adjuster directing us to a client’s online profile.

“So what?” you might be thinking, “I have nothing to hide. Besides, nothing I put on my Facebook or MySpace account has anything to do with my accident.”sThis is almost never true. For example, if you are claiming an injury, and you are writing about all of the things you did over the weekend, that is relevant. If you are posting pictures of your participation in a charity walk, that is relevant. As your attorneys, we know the truth is accident victims have good days and bad days while recovering. It is our job to make that argument on your behalf. However, the insurance adjuster will use this to show that your injuries are not very serious.

Additionally, a big part of any case is how you would present to a jury, should that be necessary. Therefore, any indication online that puts you in an unflattering light can affect your case, even before it gets that far. For example, foul language and references to illegal activity or excessive drinking do not help your case. Particularly if there is an issue regarding who was at fault for the accident, because you need to appear as serious and credible as possible.

What can you do?sFirst, if you have any profiles or accounts on any of the social media networks, set everything possible to the highest privacy setting.

Second, be careful about allowing a connection from anyone you do not personally know.

Third, again, think about what you are putting online. Although the privacy settings are a good first level of protection, there has recently been a case in New York where a judge allowed the Defendant’s lawyer to access the Plaintiff’s Facebook account. Romano v. Steelcase Inc., 2006-2233 (N.Y. Super. Sept. 21, 2010.). In that case, the Defendant argued that since the Plaintiff was claiming a loss of enjoyment of life and permanent injuries, her postings were relevant to see if this was true. The judge agreed, and said that because the point of these websites is the share information, it is discoverable, even if the person has their settings set to private.

If you have been injured in an accident and you have questions about what information insurance companies can use to evaluate your claim, please contact us at 1-800-917-1784 or read more on our website, www.Peter-Thompson-Associates.com, on our car accident practice page.

Contact Information