Nowadays, our world is more interconnected than ever. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who does not use social media—or at least have a smartphone. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reported using some form of social media, in comparison to 78 percent of those ages 30 to 49. Even older adults stay connected over the internet, with 64 percent of respondents ages 50 to 64 indicating that they use social media and 37 percent of respondents ages 65 and older indicating the same. For most Americans, when something happens, our immediate reaction is to share it. But did you know that can have real and lasting effects on your personal injury claim? Yes, it is true—every post has its consequences. Read on to find out more.
You may not see the harm in talking about your personal injury case online if you are keeping your page private. However, social media privacy settings are not bulletproof by any means. Once you file a personal injury lawsuit, your case will have to undergo the discovery process. The discovery process encompasses various pre-trial procedures a party will go through to obtain all necessary evidence. Once it begins, all involved parties will have the right to demand any evidence in the other parties’ possession—including access to social media posts. If you refuse to meet these demands, then you may be met with a court order. You may want to argue that this is a violation of your reasonable right to privacy. However, numerous court decisions have already established that private social media pages are not a protected right.
Many personal injury claims resolve themselves before being taken to litigation. Still, it is not uncommon for plaintiffs to file a complaint with the court specifically to pressure the insurance company to offer a reasonable settlement. Insurance companies may also want plaintiffs to file a complaint, as doing so will allow them to begin the discovery process. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Keep your social media pages free of any references to your accident or your injuries until your case is over.
So, we have established that insurance companies can only demand to see your social media pages after you have filed a formal complaint. You may believe that this allows you to post freely, as long as you choose not to file a lawsuit. However, this will not stop insurance claims adjusters from seeking out your profile in the first place. Many people make the mistake of believing that insurance companies are there to help. While it is true that insurance can be immensely beneficial in an accident, every insurance company is still a business like any other. Every dollar they pay you is a total loss for them, giving them every incentive to minimize or deny your settlement. Think of claims adjusters as trained investigators ready to pounce at any time. Social media posts are incredibly easy to misconstrue, as most people make them casually and without a second thought. Taking the proper precautions can prevent the chances of having your own words used against you.
In most personal injury cases, “pain and suffering” make up the bulk of the damages. The term, which may sound nebulous and vague, refers to the total physical suffering a victim has experienced as a result of their injuries. These damages often make up even more than the total compensation received for medical expenses. Because these damages are difficult to prove, much of it will rely on the victim’s testimony. Insurance claims adjusters know this and will act accordingly to disprove your claims.
First things first: Limit your privacy settings as much as possible. Make your profile (and all your posts) as hard to find as possible. You do not want anyone to see your posts unless you know you can trust them. Make sure you know everyone on your “friends list” and do not accept any new requests from strangers. Second: Do not talk about your injury. In this day and age, our immediate instinct is to share first and think later. But doing this can be an easy way to shoot yourself in the foot. If you must post about your accident, then stick only to the facts. Do not express remorse. Do not tell your friends that you are “totally okay.” These things are normal and expected in casual conversation, of course, but they are also arguably admissions of guilt. Furthermore, there can be unintended consequences of sharing any evidence with the public—even if you do so under a false name. Always act as though your case has the potential to enter the discovery process (because it does!).
When it comes to personal injury, time is of the essence. If you want to collect damages, then you should act as soon as possible. Each type of accident has a different statute of limitations. If you fail to file before your statute expires, the courts may bar you indefinitely from seeking compensation for your injuries. A good lawyer will also need adequate time to prepare a successful claim. Do not let something as simple as tardiness sabotage your chances of recovery.
If you or a loved one have recently been a victim of personal injury, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Do not be fooled by insurance companies claiming to have your best interests at heart. As businesses, they have every reason to minimize your settlement—if you are even lucky enough to get one at all. Each payment to you is a loss to them. Get your full damages by working with a skilled legal team. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide personal injury attorneys.