How social networking can ruin your personal injury claim
Did you ever think that your Facebook page or Twitter account could ruin your personal injury claim? As a Washington State auto accident lawyer it is my job to make sure that my clients receive the best settlement possible after sustaining personal injuries due to another person’s negligence. In the past this has meant not engaging in any activity that your doctor’s have told you to avoid because the insurance company could use this against you. With technology being what it is today, insurance companies have access to so much more information about you and what you have been doing since the auto accident.
Here’s a story to illustrate that point. Over Memorial Day weekend in the past, there was a tragic accident that left two people dead and 21 more injured after a bus rolled over. The accident caused another car with three people in it that was driving alongside the bus to rollover, and from what the reports said, seriously injured the passengers inside. However, the driver of the vehicle posted this on his Facebook page the day after the accident:
“Michele, Nya and I were the passenger vehicle involved in this crash. Even though our car is totaled and Michele is being monitored overnight, we thank God that we were able to walk away from this accident. The baby seems fine and Nya was dancing by the time we got to the hospital. Thank you for everybody that came out to help and thank you for your continuous prayers. We should be able to go back home in the morning.”
Most people would see this post as a simple update to let friends and family know that everyone was alright after the auto accident. But what I see is someone destroying their chance of getting the settlement that they actually deserve. The worst part about this post was that it was picked up by the news station and broadcast in a story about the accident and is still on the Northwest Cable News website, so even if the victim deleted the post it wouldn’t be hard for the insurance company to find it again.
At my Bellevue personal injury law firm I strongly suggest to all of my clients to take down all of their social networking pages while the case is going on. People don’t seem to understand how good the defense attorney will be at twisting any and everything that they post: pictures, statements, even pictures posted by friends. All of it can and will be used against you in ways that you can’t even imagine. I know that we all love keeping our friends and family updated on what we are up to and how we are doing, but those updates are not worth losing your settlement over.
If you do decide to keep your page up here are some rules to follow that could keep you from losing your settlement:
- Do not allow anyone to become your friend on a social networking site unless you are positive that you know and trust that person.
- Do not post photographs or video of yourself, and request that your friends do not post anything with you in is as well. If you are “tagged” in a photo, ask whoever posted it to take the picture down, and at the very least, “untag” the picture.
- Do not write anything that you wouldn’t want the opposing side to bring up in trial. This includes posts that are written as jokes or in a sarcastic manner that could be taken out of context.
- Do not send emails or text messages to anyone about your case except your attorney.
- Do not participate in online discussions about your case, including blogs, chat rooms and message boards.
Even with the highest privacy settings possible the insurance company can still figure out how to monitor your account, and they will use anything they can find against you. If you haven’t hired an experienced Washington State auto accident lawyer yet, take the time to consult with one before you post or do anything online. If it was a serious accident call your family and friends to let them know that you are ok. Don’t send any text messages or emails regarding your case because those records can make a big difference when it comes time to settle your case.
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