In 2017, 81 percent of adults in the United States have at least one social media profile. When something major happens to us, such as a car wreck, it is a natural inclination to want to tell people about it. People take to Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels to post pictures or vent about the wreck. Posting about a car accident is not a good idea. It is not just your friends and family that are interested in your post and tweets. Insurance adjusters and their lawyers are looking at your social media accounts to use the information there against you.
Furthermore, it is not just pictures of the accident or post about your injuries that they are interested in, they are looking for anything to use against you and your case. I have heard of the insurance company using post from Facebook that mention family dinners and church gatherings to show that the injured person’s life had not been affected by the accident. Insurance companies are looking for posts like “Hey, I just left the doctor and I feel great”, “Today is a great day. The sun is shining and I am so blessed,” or “Girls’ night!” Insurance companies send their adjuster, claims representatives and attorneys to classes and seminars on how to use social media against you. Do not give them anything to work with.
Some people do not think they need to worry, that their account is “private.” All social media is public. Period. Even though your account is set to “private” the person who caused your accident can still subpoena everything in your account. All of your pictures, posts, check-in, snaps, tweets and shares. Even if you have deleted them.
The best thing you can do after an injury is to delete your accounts on social media. If you are unwilling to delete your accounts or go inactive on social media, at least:
• Do not accept friend requests from people who you do not know personally.
• Do not write anything about the accident. Anything that includes: what happened, the people involved, photos or how you are both physically and mentally.
• Do not post vacation pictures, workout pictures or photos of you doing anything that casts doubt on you being injured.
• Do not answer questions that people ask about what happened, or how you are now.
• Do not write statuses about ‘how you are feeling’ – even by talking about how you are happy today.
• Do not “check in” places. “John Doe was at the gym.” “John Doe was at a nice restaurant.”
• If you have to upload photos, think about whether it will harm or help your case. You cannot claim a back injury when you are posting pictures of you having spent the day water skiing or kayaking.
• If people have tagged you in photos on Facebook, select ‘only me’ in the options of who can see your tagged photos.
• Do not join any discussions or groups with people that you do not know, or about subjects which could affect your claim.
• You can remove yourself from search results on Facebook by selecting ‘only friends’ under ‘search visibility’.
• Remove your Facebook page from Google searches by going to ‘Privacy Settings’ on your Facebook page and un-checking the ‘Public Search Listing’ box.
Do not assume that Instagram, Snapchat or other apps are safe. All of these accounts and platforms can be searched with a subpoena. Insurance companies can even see if you are giving businesses reviews on Yelp or things you have listed for sale on the Internet.
None of these steps will keep you safe if the insurance company decides to subpoena this information, but at least they will not be able to see anything before the subpoena is issued. The less said on social media after an accident, the better.
Venus Poe, Esquire has been a lawyer for over 14 years. She grew up in Fountain Inn and has offices in Fountain Inn and Greenville. She works primarily with the victims of auto accidents, work-related injuries, wrongful deaths and social security disability. She can be contacted at (864) 963-0310 or on the web at www.venuspoe.com.
The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should not read this article to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which you may have a case.