Though near-constant engagement with social media has become a way of life for many Americans, the habit of regularly updating statuses, locations, and general goings-on can pose a serious threat to the success of a personal injury claim. Scrutiny from insurance companies and opposing counsel comes in many forms, and in terms using social media during the process of settlement negotiations and/or litigation, plaintiffs are well-advised to stay out of sight as much as possible.
The Dangers of Social Media to Plaintiff Injury Claims
Make no mistake, once an adversarial relationship forms between a personal injury plaintiff and an insurance carrier or another defendant, the gloves will come off and all avenues of attack will be considered fair game. Opposing counsel is almost certain to scour a plaintiff's social media accounts searching for evidence that will minimize or even eliminate damage claims. Any suggestion that the injuries now being asserted are in fact nonexistent, are far less serious than stated or were already in existence prior to the event in question will be used to strengthen the defense case. Photos of hiking trips taken by someone claiming to be seriously disabled after a car wreck, check-ins to amusement parks or discussion threads reminiscing about last weekend's club-hopping excursion are all potentially fatal to an injury case, something Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat devotees must bear in mind.
The Past Can Come Back to Haunt Claimants
It is also important for plaintiffs to remember that it is not just current activities in which the opposing side will have an interest. Exercising discipline in terms of current posting habits is not always enough to keep hopes of financial recovery alive. The fact is that older posts that remain online for anyone to find can also prove problematic. Arguments that the accident at issue was the cause of crippling back pain are certain to be severely undermined by a series of posts from years prior soliciting advice on treating a herniated disc. Even if the injuries are not in reality connected to one another, the damaging inference remains. The insurance company investigators or attorneys for the other side will not be overly concerned about the truth of the picture they are painting with social media posts, but rather with the overall impression they create in the minds of those deciding the case.
How to Manage Social Media as a Personal Injury Plaintiff
Social media posts can have an extremely detrimental impact on the prospects of almost any personal injury claim, and it is incumbent upon plaintiffs to take all possible steps to manage their online presence until all claims are resolved. First of all, injury victims must not post information about the accident event itself or the after-effects suffered. All documentation and details should be reserved for use by the victim's attorney alone. Old posts that have any conceivable connection to the injuries involved should be deleted immediately to keep them out of the hands of the opposition. Finally, privacy settings on all social media accounts should be increased to the greatest available extent, and new “friend” or connection requests should be declined unless received from parties well-known to the plaintiff.
Guiding Injured Coloradans Through the Claims Process
It is critical that injury victims in Colorado do not underestimate the effect social media posts can have on their damage claims. Defense counsel and insurance adjusters will go to great lengths to poke holes in every plaintiff's arguments, and it is wise to thwart that effort whenever possible. Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal can help clients effectively control information available about them online and therefore boost their chances of obtaining the outcome they desire. If you would like to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your personal injury event, contact us at 303.825.2223.