You are most likely familiar with social media in its various forms — Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to name the most notable few. Posting about our daily lives, the trips we take, even the food we eat has become second nature. We have become so accustomed to sharing every detail of our lives with our friends and followers worldwide.
Suppose you were involved in a car accident on your way home from work. Posting on Facebook after an accident or uploading a video to Instagram retelling your version of events may seem harmless. In reality, by posting details of the car crash online, you are essentially making public statements that may be used to undermine an otherwise legitimate insurance claim.
Consider the following example. A person is in a car accident and sustains injuries through the negligence of another driver. The injured party files a claim with their insurance provider seeking compensation for damages. A friend may see your post about the accident or have knowledge about the incident and post on your Facebook wall saying, “I heard you were in a car crash, how are you feeling?” Your instinct may be to respond by saying, “I’m okay,” when really, you are seriously injured. Or perhaps you post an image during a visit with your family where all of you are smiling. The insurance company can make the argument that the statement you made or the photo of you smiling indicates that you are not injured.
This argument may not sound logical to you, but insurance companies can manipulate the context of your social media posts after an accident to jeopardize your claim. They may also use past content from your social media account to determine your character, the type of risks you took leading up to the accident, and any pre-existing injuries that could be argued for causing your current pain.
5 Ways Social Media Can Ruin Your Car Accident Injury Claim
When it comes to social media and car accidents, be aware that anything you say (or in this case, anything you post) can and will be used against you. Here are just a few of the ways your social media posts can destroy your personal injury claim.
Pictures/ Being Tagged in Pictures
When insurance companies are looking at your social media accounts, they generally take images and statements at face value without giving weight to the context of the post. Suppose you post a photo or were tagged in a picture from a trip you took down south last year. The insurer may only look at the date you published the photo and conclude that because you appear healthy in the photo, and it was posted during a timeframe you are supposedly suffering a serious injury, you must be lying about the damages in your claim.
The insurance company is only concerned about what a photo implies, not the story behind it. Sitting on the bleachers at a game, having a barbecue in your backyard, even posting a picture of your garden could be enough to undermine your claim for damages in the eyes of an insurance investigator.
After you report an accident to your insurance company, an adjuster is assigned to your claim to investigate the circumstances of the accident. Your insurance provider will determine the degree of fault to be assigned to each driver based on the rules set out by the Automobile Insurance Fault Determination Regulations.
The claims adjuster could interpret comments from others on your social profiles as an implication that you are at fault, even if you are not legally responsible for the accident. Other commenting about your driving habits, the damage to your vehicle or the injuries you sustained could seriously hurt your credibility.
Talking About Insurance or the Other Driver
When you share information about your claim or personal injury lawsuit on social media, it becomes public knowledge. Any confidentiality protections, such as lawyer-client privileges, no longer apply. Venting your frustrations online or providing updates about your case could result in the insurance company arguing that you are not negotiating in good faith. As a result, the insurer may not have to continue negotiations, and you may end up with a significantly reduced payout or no payout at all.
Public v Private Profiles
In a personal injury lawsuit, all parties are required to provide all documents that are relevant to the case. In most provinces, documents are defined to include data and information in electronic form. This means social media data, including instant messages, photographs, personal information stored on websites such as Facebook and Instagram, are considered documents for discovery purposes.
If you have a public social media account, any content on this profile, past or present, is considered public record. In other words, you just made it easier for the insurance company to access the information they can use to deny your claim. Increasing the privacy settings on a social media account may limit public access but, in most circumstances, will not prevent the defense from gaining access during discovery examinations.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid using privacy settings. Privacy settings can help prevent others from tagging you or posting information on your social media pages, in addition to limiting the amount and type of content people can see on your profile.
If you have already posted something about the car accident or your injuries on social media, do not take it down or delete it. Removing posts could be viewed as destroying evidence or that you are trying to hide information about the accident or your injuries.
Examples of What to Avoid on Social Media After an Accident
While this area of the law continues to evolve, social media is becoming one of the primary sources for insurance companies to make a case for denying your car accident claim. Knowing what to avoid on social media after a car accident can significantly improve your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
Don’t make new friends
Do not accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know following an accident. The insurance investigator may be posing as a friend in order to gain access to your profile and find the information they can use against you.
Don’t discuss your case online
Avoid posting anything about your accident or claim. If you are injured in a car accident, you are dealing with pain, trying to recover, in addition to managing the stress of the claims process. This can all be overwhelming, and you may end up posting something about your case that you don’t mean.
Don’t post about your injuries
Insurance companies will look for evidence to argue that your injuries are not as serious as you say they are. For this reason, avoid discussing your injuries or medical treatment in your social media posts.
Don’t post your activities
As we previously mentioned, even posting a photo of having a barbecue in your backyard can be viewed as engaging in “healthy” activities and used to undermine your personal injury claim.
Don’t post anything
If possible, avoid posting on social media entirely following a car accident. It may seem a bit extreme, but if you are not posting content, then the insurance companies have less, if any, information to use against your claim. This includes limiting your private messages and the content you are tagged in.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you have been injured in a car accident, your focus should be on recovering. If you are concerned about what information on your social media accounts could be used against you or have questions about your car accident claim, contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Valent Legal today. Our team of car accident lawyers in Halifax, NS will take over your claim for you, negotiate on your behalf, and represent your best interests in court if your case is taken to trial. We are experienced and prepared to do everything in our power to get you the compensation you are entitled to.