Social media is a great way to remain connected with friends and family. And, it is free and easy-to-use. You don't have to leave the comfort of your home to post a photo, tell your "friends" what you are thinking, or "like" their latest posts. However, if you are involved in a legal claim or a lawsuit, social media can also have some very serious, negative consequences.
My advice: If you are in an automobile accident, a slip and fall accident, or suffer a work injury - STOP POSTING ANYTHING ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Ask your friends and family to do the same. (DO NOT delete any previously posts.)
Why? Because social media has become the place insurance companies and defense lawyers look to find evidence to discredit your claim. Here is what happened to Samantha:
Samantha is stopped at a red light. Bob (who is driving behind Samantha) is not paying attention, fails to stop his vehicle, and rear-ends Samantha's vehicle. Samantha obtains medical treatment and her doctor diagnoses her with a cervical sprain and a concussion. Samantha's doctor tells her to stay out of the sun or she will experience increased symptoms (migraines, visual disturbances). The doctor recommends that Samantha stay inside as much as possible for the next couple of months and, if she must go out in the sun, to wear a hat and sunglasses.
Samantha's nine year old son, Dennis, plays little league. Since Samantha followed her doctor's orders, she missed all of his games that summer. However, determined to support her son in his last game, Samantha put on a hat and sunglasses, sat beneath an umbrella, and cheered for her son. At the end of the game, Samantha took off her hat and sunglasses and went out on the field to take a photo with Dennis. She then posted that photo on Facebook and Instagram.
Bob's insurance company saw the photo and used the photo to weaken Samantha's case, arguing that Samantha's conditions must not be as severe as she claims. One picture became "a thousand words." Despite our argument that the picture does not tell the whole story, the photo does harm Samantha's claim.
When we talk to our clients about an auto accident, a slip and fall accident, or a work injury, we caution them to stop posting information on social media until the case is over. Even with privacy settings, anything posted on social media may be accessed by the insurance company to use against you. The insurance company is looking for any "evidence" to show that the injuries or damages are "not that bad," or in some cases, to argue that there never was an injury! Another worry - if the insurance company finds anything on the Internet that is relevant to your case, you may be forced to reveal your passwords to all your social media accounts.
The moral of Samantha's story is that if you or someone you know is in the middle of an accident or injury claim, the best thing you can do to improve your chances of being successful in the case is to stop posting on all social media accounts after the accident or injury occurs. Whatever is on social media for the public to see may be dangerous, no matter how innocent it may seem.
Jessica Rafferty is a skilled Personal Injury attorney for Quatrinini Rafferty Law Firm. With offices in Greensburg, Pittsburgh, and Latrobe, she's ready to help you recover compensation for your injuries no matter where they occur. If you or someone you know is ever involved in an auto accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, give her a call at (888) 534-6016 or visit qrlegal.com to schedule a free consultation.
Click here to read about Jessica's recent admission into both the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums.