Make no mistake about it, if you were involved in an accident and are claiming injury, the insurance company will search your name on the internet for personal information they can use to limit or deny your claim, and the biggest online threat to the majority of clients is their social media presence.
Which Social Media Sites are Most Dangerous?
Anything you post to the internet has the potential to be used as evidence against you, however, some of the sites our clients most often interact with include:
Facebook - Far and away the leader, Facebook (FB) is said to have 1.4 Billion users worldwide. Insurance companies know this is the go-to site for people to chronicle their daily events, including details about their accident.
An example of how FB can easily destroy a claim might be an uploaded picture of you roller-blading after the date of your accident despite the fact you're claiming severe back pain. This type of evidence makes the insurance company AND your attorney question whether or not you're being honest about your injuries.
Twitter - An estimated 135,000 new users sign up for Twitter accounts each day. The ease with which people can broadcast their thoughts or photos to Twitter makes it another popular target for insurance adjusters.
LinkedIn - The world's most popular professional networking site boasts over 100 Million users in the United States. It's a safe bet to assume a majority of insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, and other interested parties will be members of LinkedIn, and they can use it to find information about you.
Pinterest - If you enjoy posting and sharing personal pictures on Pinterest, be very careful that you don't upload anything that might allow the insurance company to question the validity of your injuries.
Youtube - The world's second most popular search engine can be especially dangerous if you upload video of yourself engaging in activities that make someone question your injury.
Exactly how popular is Youtube? Consider this: More video is uploaded to the site in 30 days than what 3 leading television networks were able to create in 60 years!
Google+ - An up-and-comer in the world of social media, Google+ is yet another place you can hurt your claim if you're talking about your accident, posting pictures of your injuries, allowing friends to discuss the incident, etc.
Foursquare - A popular tool used to "check-in" to locations, don't publicly broadcast you're whereabouts while your claim is ongoing. For example, someone who is claiming neck and back pain shouldn't be "checking-in" at a roller skating rink, even if they are there and not participating.
What's the lesson?
We only touched on a few of the many social sites that can be monitored while your injury claim is ongoing, and after looking at some of the statistics, it's good advice to assume that EVERYONE uses social media in some fashion, including evidence gathering. Always assume your activities are being monitored by the insurance company after your accident.
We recommend you complete the following steps so your claim isn’t negatively affected by social media and/or the internet:
We publish recent announcements to these sites and you can also use them to instantly message us for updates or questions about your case.
2) Don’t post details about your accident, injuries, and/or recovery on a social media site or personal blog. This includes the uploading of videos and photos, or responding to others’ comments about your accident.
3) Remove past posts that can be used to limit your claim.
A pre-accident comment or post about a sore neck or back can be used by the insurance company as evidence that the collision/incident wasn’t the sole cause of your present injuries.
4) Google yourself.
The insurance company is going to do it, so make sure what they find isn’t going to hurt your claim. If you see “search results” that concern you, contact us so the findings can be evaluated by your attorney.
5) Don’t let your friends post about you.
You need to assume their information will also be accessed by the insurance company. For example, a friend who “checks you into locations” or posts photos of you being active can unknowingly harm your claim.
6) INCREASE your privacy settings.
Strict privacy settings may not limit complete access by outside sources, but it can help to limit any past, present, or future information that may hurt your claim.
Will it work?
While we can’t promise that taking these steps will completely secure you from an insurance company finding information about you, we do believe it can help to potentially limit the discovery of negative evidence. The only way to truly make sure social media doesn't affect your personal injury case is to avoid it.
If you have any questions about your social media and/or internet presence, please contact us so that we can examine the accounts/information together.