For many people after an injury, they’re stuck at home, out of work and often isolated from friends and family. To pass the time and stay connected they frequently take to social media like Facebook and Twitter to reach out, vent, etc. and it’s no wonder. Facebook users alone spend almost 7 hours per month on the site and that number is growing daily.
We’ve all heard the adage to be careful what you share, but in today’s world it’s more important than ever. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of what you post in social media and whether it is public or private, especially if a friend or family member has tagged you in a post or photo.
Just the same, it is becoming easier and easier for insurance companies to search your name, general location or even your spouse’s name to find “evidence” to discredit you. They can use this information to track down photos, dates and more and then use the information against you to claim that you’re not hurt.
I recall being involved in a case years ago as a defense attorney when my client’s insurance company was investigating a person who suffered a spinal injury and was unable to work. This person’s job required long hours of sitting in front of a computer. In a matter of moments with a simple, free search on Facebook, the insurance adjuster found pictures from a recent trip the person had taken out of town. The insurance company, in turn, argued that if the person was “really hurt,” they never would have been able to travel any distance (never mind that the reason for travel was to visit a terminally ill friend). The point is, the insurance company was able to introduce doubt into the case using basic social media search techniques, making it harder for the injured person to recover their losses.
I also recall another case in which a driver who caused a motor vehicle collision started reaching out to the passenger she injured, her “best friend,” on Facebook. The injured passenger did not feel much like socializing, but wanted to try and maintain the friendship. She would occasionally send quick responses by simply writing, “I’m okay,” or “I’ll be fine” to the driver. The relationship between the two cooled as the months went by. The driver ultimately provided her insurance company with screen shots of all of the “conversations” with the injured friend. The insurance company used the screen shots to document how, in its opinion, the injured passenger had regularly shown that she was recovering quickly from her injuries, despite medical records to the contrary.
Social media is a wonderful way to stay connected, but if you’ve been injured you must be extremely careful not to discuss it in social media. Avoid posting pictures of activities or “checking in.” Restrict your privacy settings and “un-tag” yourself from photos taken by others. Taken out of context they can be damaging to your case. Ultimately, the safest solution is to “go dark” while your claim is being resolved.