Be Careful About What You Post Online
What is the connection between a car accident and social media? The answer may surprise you. Insurance companies want access to your social media. They want to go through all of your photos. They want to read all of your posts. They want to find out who all of your friends are. They are trying to dig up some dirt on you. They do this because they don’t believe you were really hurt in that crash and they don’t want to compensate you for what you’re going through. The insurance company is invading your privacy just so they try to deny your personal injury claim. Are you going to let them do that? What can you do to protect yourself?
How Insurance Companies Use Social Media Against You
Facebook®, Twitter®, Instagram®, YouTube® and other social media sites contain lots of photos, videos, and other information that could be used against you in your personal injury case. It’s free and easy and that’s why insurance companies love to use social media to find dirt to use against you.
Example #1: “You’re exaggerating.” If you claim that your injuries prevent you from working, insurance company investigators could use photos of you playing softball with friends or co-workers to attack your credibility by suggesting that you are lying about your ability to work.
Example #2: “We know where to find you.” Posting the days and times of activities, such as a regular softball game, could give insurance company investigators a prime opportunity to conduct video surveillance of you which they will use to attack your credibility.
Example #3: “You’re a fraud.” Photos like the one shown here could be used to attack your claim as frivolous or fraudulent. Although the photo was probably a joke, it could cause people who don’t know you to be suspicious about your claim.
“Don’t I Have a Right to Privacy?”
Unfortunately, California law is not clear whether, or how much, to protect your online privacy from insurance company snooping. The courts may be more willing to protect your privacy if you do the same. The more public your social media is, the more likely the Court would allow an insurance company to use your social media against you in court. Consider restricting your own social media posts and asking friends not to post/tag public photos of you too.
“I’m Not Lying, so What is the Problem if the Insurance Company Sees My Photos?”
You’re not lying and the insurance company is intentionally twisting the facts. There is an innocent explanation. But will a jury understand that? After all, they don’t know you. For example, a client may post a photo of herself at her company softball game, but she attended the game only to support the team and she did not play because she was in too much pain. Sounds reasonable, but will a jury believe her when the insurance company lawyer suggests that she’s lying about her injuries because she wants money. It is better not to have to explain such a photo. Lawyers have a saying: if you’re explaining, you’re already losing.
“How Can the Insurance Company Access My Social Media?”
Insurance company lawyers may demand your password and download your content. And they demand to see it all. They demand to see every vacation photo taken since your injury to see if you’re having a good time, or all selfies you have taken since your injury to see if it looks like you’re in pain. Obviously, this is an incredible invasion of your privacy, but it is not clear how much California courts will protect you if you don’t protect yourself. For that reason, limit your posts until your case is settled. Don’t wait until the insurance company asks. Once they demand to see your content, you will not be able to take down any photos or make any changes to your social media. In other words, once your lawyer receives a demand for this “evidence,” it will be too late. The sooner you act, the better.
Here’s What You Can Do
Remember, nothing you post on social media is really private. Content has a really long shelf-life and is becoming easier and easier to search. And while you may be trying to maintain your privacy, are your friends still tagging you and reposting your content?
Not posting at all, or very carefully limiting your social media posts, is the surest way to avoid having this information used against you. However, for many of us, social networking is an important part of our lives and it is not realistic to ask that you not post any personal information or photos, or take down posts and photos already online. Still, there are steps you can take that may let you avoid having to hand over your social media content to an insurance company lawyer who will use it against you.
- Privacy settings should be restricted to “Friends Only” or “Followers Only.”
- Do not accept friend or follower requests from people you do not know (your lawyer will never send you a friend request without first telling you about it).
- Avoid posting photos of yourself engaging in activities that may undermine your claim or that could cause someone to form a negative opinion of you.
- Remove tags from photos posted by others and ask friends and family not to tag you and to remove photos of you from their social network.
- Avoid using hashtags and captions that may undermine your claim or that could cause someone to form a negative opinion of you.
The San Diego car accident attorneys at Eugene Bruno & Associates will aggressively protect your privacy. We take a proactive approach when it comes to your privacy and we can help you review your social media for anything that may negatively affect your car accident case. Contact our office today for information at 888-BRUNO-88.
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