Social media is a popular way for people to share photos, videos and messages about what’s going on in their lives. But if you’ve been hurt in an accident, beware — insurance investigators may have their eyes on you.
A staggering 3.8 billion people use social media globally, according to a 2020 analysis of the digital universe by Hootsuite. That’s nearly half of the world’s population. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that insurance adjusters look to accident victims’ social media account(s) for evidence to justify denying or reducing their personal injury claims.
Obtaining compensation in an injury claim requires proof — and social media is a quick and easy place for investigators to start combing for evidence. Let’s say you were hurt in a car accident and suffered whiplash and back injuries. If you or a friend posts a Facebook video of you dancing at a nightclub while you’re supposed to be recovering, the insurance company can use that footage against you to argue that you’re not as hurt as you claim to be.
You’re not safe with private messaging platforms like WhatsApp, either. Just as courts can ask you to turn over your cell phone records and emails as evidence, any accident-related messages that you trade over social media may be admissible, too.
To put it simply — nothing you post on social media ever truly disappears. You could un-tag yourself from the friend’s video of you dancing so that it doesn’t appear on your Facebook profile, but an investigator could still find it and authenticate that it’s you.
Protect Your Legal Claim by Taking a Social Media Break
After an accident, the ideal thing to do is to stay off social media entirely. But if you don’t want to take a social media vacation, then there are ways to keep using it without damaging your claim for compensation.
- Limit what you post: Don’t talk about the accident on Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform that you use. Avoid posting photographs, even if they seem harmless to you. Restrict your social media use to scrolling through others’ posts or sharing news articles. Don’t “check-in” at restaurants or other spots when you’re supposed to be in bed.
- Ask your family and friends not to post anything about you on social media: Tell them that you have an injury claim pending and that sharing anything could damage your case. It could also result in a friend or relative being asked to be a witness against you.
- Adjust your privacy settings: Change your account to the highest privacy setting possible.
- Review your list of “friends:” If you’re in the habit of accepting friend requests from pretty much anyone, stop now. Check your list. If you don’t recognize a name, delete it. It could be an adjuster wanting access to your account.
- Don’t remove anything: It’s not a good idea to remove something that you’ve already posted to social media. The insurance company could argue that you were destroying evidence.
Reach Out to an Experienced SC and NC Personal Injury Lawyer
At Stewart Law Offices, our attorneys work hard to obtain maximum compensation for clients injured in accidents throughout the Carolinas. Monitoring your social media usage is just one way that insurance companies try to get out of paying you a fair settlement. Let us help you fight for the best possible results in your case.
Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Originally published December 16th, 2016, updated July 15th, 2020.