Social media is all the rage today. We have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and an infinitely-growing number of social media platforms to share our views and personal information.While this can be a good thing, most of the time, it is not.
In fact, many people have lived to regret a message they posted to someone’s Facebook wall in anger or wished they had been more discreet when sharing photographs. One thing is for certain, the Internet is short on rules but long on memory. Once something is posted, it is impossible to completely remove it, and it will likely be found if someone digs deep enough.
That is why I always caution my clients to avoid using Facebook or other social media sites while their case is pending or to at the very least refrain from posting any information concerning their accident, injuries or activities. I give this advice because insurance companies frequently attempt to gain access to these social media sites in search of any unflattering information regarding the injured victim.
Laws on what participants in a lawsuit can access regarding social media information are still being written. Some courts have allowed parties in lawsuits to obtain entire social media profiles of the opposing party. More typically, courts only allow the disclosure of social media posts and photos that pertain to an injured person’s allegations, damages or related activities that may help prove or disprove their claims.
Another trap for the unwary may be created when someone deletes unfavorable posts or photographs from their social media websites after a lawsuit is filed. In such instances, an insurer may argue that evidence has been destroyed and that the claimant should be penalized.
How can social media posts affect a personal injury case? In a recent case that my office has handled, a young man at a party became intoxicated, got into his car, and then drove away at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately, he ran over three 16 year old girls who were crossing a street in the process. The young man didn’t stop at the scene, and then posted on Facebook that he was sorry that he hit the three (explicative) but that these (explicative) should have gotten the (explicative) out of his way! When I showed this post to the wayward youth’s insurance company, the claims adjustor just shook his head in disbelief at the callous disregard that this young man had posted for everyone to see.
Conversely, I had an insurance adjustor in another case show me photos that my client or others had posted on Facebook which showed my client riding on a motorcycle after a spinal surgery. Vacation photos or photos taken at an amusement park are also popular with insurance companies. The injured person may have had to sit on the sidelines and not participate in the activity, but this may not be apparent from the photograph.
The best advice then is to not post any photograph or make any comment to Facebook or other social media that you wouldn’t want an insurance company to see. If you’ve been injured in an accident and need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer, call Ludlow Law or fill out or simple contact form at www.jamesludlowatty.com/contact-us/