Accidents and Social Media

Oct 02, 2017

Advice from Personal Injury Attorney Ben Shell.

My clients often ask me if they should stop posting on social media if they have a pending injury claim. While some may not like it, the answer is a resounding YES.
Why stop? I can tell you with absolute certainty that the insurance defense lawyers and the insurance adjusters on the other side are looking at your posts and photos. And they will make every opportunity to use them against you in your auto accident case.
The reason I know this is because this was my practice. I began my career as a defense attorney, representing Fortune 500 insurance companies and their insured. The first thing I did when I got assigned a case was to do a check on all social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. But I would take it a step further, I would actually make a copy of these profiles. Then, during the discovery process, I would request that the Plaintiff produce a complete and authentic copy of their profiles. My next step would be to compare the two profiles for any differences. Essentially, I was looking for anything that may have been deleted or altered. First, that would tell me what areas I need to focus my attention on. Second, you can imagine what it would look like to a jury if one side was caught trying to hide evidence.
If you do anything after an accident, such as going to the beach, movies, or even a family Bar-B-Que, this information can and will be twisted and used against you. The rationale will be that you are obviously not that injured if you are able to go to the beach. Or you’re obviously not upset or depressed about your injuries if you’re able to go the bar with friends.
You may be sitting there and thinking to yourself that you don’t have to worry about it because your profile is private. That is absolutely not the case. Keep in mind, even if your profile is set to private, you will still be required to produce a copy of your profile if the defense attorney ask. Under Florida law, Courts have routinely held that individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy with social media accounts, regardless of the privacy settings.
Do yourself a favor and avoid posting on your social media accounts. Trust me, they will be there in a few months when your case is settled.