If you have been in an automobile accident or you’ve suffered an injury due to another’s carelessness, then you need to take care not to post anything about the accident or your injuries on social media. There are many ways that doing so could harm your injury case.
Insurance companies use social media accounts as their main way to learn about clients’ character, credibility, and behavior. As soon as you make a claim, their people are looking for information online that can be used to minimize the money they will pay out to you. People post all kinds of personal information on social media, ranging from likes and dislikes to photos and commentaries on activities such as vacations and social or athletic events. Insurance companies will use all of this and more against you if they can gain access to it.
For example, suppose your neck and back were injured in an automobile accident last spring. You received some medical treatment to heal your neck and back, but in the middle of treatment you took a family vacation to Florida and visited amusement parks with roller coaster, zip line, and aquatic activities requiring various levels of physical effort. You posted photos of these activities on your social media and continued your medical treatment.
These actions on your part will likely result in the insurance company saying your current back injury is the result of your activities during your vacation. They will likely also question your credibility if you are claiming you suffered from back pain during those vacation activities.
Similarly, if you have photographs on your social media in which you are holding or drinking an alcoholic beverage, then that can be used to indicate you may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of your injury. If you have photos from your attendance at a political rally, many people will not like that party, cause, or candidate, and that can serve to alienate the people involved in your case. If you present an exaggerated image of yourself or your lifestyle on social media, this can be used against you, as well. While these examples seem unfair, they are only available if you are posting them online. You can take actions to prevent these threats to your case.
One of our previous clients was a 19-year-old male who was injured in a bus accident in which the bus driver fell asleep and crashed into a ditch, injuring our client’s wrist and shoulder and resulting in over $35,000 in medical bills to treat his injuries. He still needed more treatment, but he was not able to get it because his health insurance had run out and he did not have money for the treatment.
We were explaining this to the adjuster when they challenged the assertion that the client did not have sufficient money. They presented several screenshots of social media posts in which our client was holding up gang symbols and holding what appeared to be stacks of currency. Also present in the photos were what appeared to be drug packages and alcoholic beverages.
We immediately contacted our client, who confirmed he had posted these images of himself, but he indicated the items in the images were all fake. Real or not, those kinds of images would not be popular with a jury of adults. As a result of these photos, we ultimately settled the case for much less than we could have if those images had not appeared.
Another note on those controversial photos: Our client had at first suggested he could delete them and deny that he was even the person appearing in the photos, requiring the bus company to prove he was the man in the pictures. However, we explained that this was a bad idea and it would be unethical for us to be involved in such a farce, knowing it to be untrue.
In order to place yourself in the best position for success in your personal injury case, don’t publish controversial posts on social media. Also, always keep your social media private so only your friends can see your posts. That will make it more difficult for insurance companies to find whatever you do post. Watch the video to learn more.
If you have additional questions concerning personal injury or social media posts in relation to your case, I want you to call me at (888) 487-8546. I welcome your call. Visit our educational website at www.kalfusnachman.com/videos for more videos and media content from our law firm.
"I was involved in an automobile accident and my lawyer told me not to post anything on social media about my accident. Does it really matter?"
Hi. I'm Paul Hernandez, attorney in Kalfus & Nachman, litigating cases across Virginia and North Carolina.
Client's social media accounts are the number one way insurance companies find out about the client's character, credibility and behavior. As soon as the person makes a claim with an insurance company, they have their companies scour through that person's social media footprint to find ways to minimize their insurance exposure. Think about it, most people post everything about their lives on social media, where they live, their birthday, their family members, their friends, their likes, their dislikes, their political beliefs, their vacations, what they like to drink and how much, their taste in humor, their activities like riding roller coasters, their abilities in sports, and so much more. Every one of these things can affect a personal injury case. Let me give you a couple of examples of how your social media footprint can destroy your personal injury case.
Let's say you were in an automobile accident last spring, and your neck and your back were hurt. You receive medical treatment to heal your back and neck, however, your family vacation was interrupted with your treatment. You went to Florida and visited several amusement parks. You posted several photos of you riding roller coasters, zip lining and going tubing behind a boat. All of these are physical activities that one would think would be hard to perform if their back was hurt. When you get back from your vacation, you pick up where you left off with your medical treatment. The insurance company will say your back was not hurt in the wreck, but from all the various activities you engaged in during your family vacation. Your credibility is shot if you claim you were suffering from back pain from the accident when you went on your vacation.
How about when an insurance company looks at your social media feed and every picture of you has you holding or chugging an alcoholic beverage? That's not going to go over very well if there was a question about whether you were under the influence of alcohol when you slipped and fell in that convenience store in front of the beer cooler. How would you like for evidence to be presented at your trial of you at a political rally? It doesn't matter for what party or candidate the political rally was for, it is guaranteed that 50% of the public is not going to like that political party or candidate and discount your case accordingly. It seems unfair, however, nobody would have known about this information if it was not for you plastering it all over social media.
Many people act differently in their image on social media than their real life, as well as how they act in court. Let me share with you what happened to one of my client's cases after the insurance company took screenshots of my client's social media feeds.
My client was a 19-year-old male who was injured in a bus accident. He was on his way back home from a relative's house, three states away, when the bus driver fell asleep, crashed the bus into a ditch. There was no question that my client received serious injuries to his wrist and his shoulder. As a matter of fact, he incurred over $35,000 in medical bills just to treat him for his injuries. My client needed more treatment, however, he was unable to get the treatment because his health insurance had run out and he did not have the money to get the medical treatment.
I was explaining that to the insurance adjuster when the adjuster challenged me in my ascertation that the client did not have the money. The adjuster emailed me screenshot after screenshot of my client's social media posts. The images showed my client holding up gang symbols with his hands, stacks of currency, and what appeared to be packages of drugs and alcoholic beverages in every image. I immediately contacted my client and asked him about the images. He confirmed that the images were of him, that he posted them, however, he explained that everything in the images were fake. He was just trying to give the image that he was a bad boy. Either way, you do not want to be explaining that to a jury of adults who do not take kindly to those images. Needless to say, we settled that case for a lot less than what we should have settled the case for if those images did not appear.
I need to make sure you also understand something about the images like that on your social media feed. You see, my client said that he could delete them and deny that they were even of him, then the bus company would have to prove that those pictures were of him. I explained to him that that was a bad idea and it would be unethical for me to be part of that farce knowing that it was untrue.
So if you want to put yourself in the best position to have great success in pursuing your personal injury case, do not post controversial posts on your social media and always keep your social media private so only friends can see your posts. It will make it harder for the insurance companies to find your social media posts. If you have any questions concerning social media posts or personal injury claims at all, call me, Paul Hernandez, attorney at Kalfus & Nachman. I answer questions like this every day. Thanks for watching.
Kalfus & Nachman
Offices in Norfolk, Newport News and Roanoke, Virginia.