Your social media apps are probably where you go when you want to chat
or have fun with family and friends. It is easy to share a story, post
a picture or video, and converse with others, even if they are not in
your usual circles. But the draw of social media and its connectedness
can actually be a bad thing if you have a pending
personal injury claim.
Mind What You Post to Social Media
Parents are constantly telling their kids to be careful about what they
post to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and other popular social
media apps. But adults need to take their own advice, especially if they
are in the middle of handling a personal injury claim or lawsuit. In the
last decade or so, insurance companies have become
big fans of social media apps because they can be a gold mine of evidence
to use against claimants.
Imagine that you filed an injury claim and said that you could hardly get
out of bed due to the extent of your debilitations. To try to lift your
spirits, you go to a local restaurant with your family. While there, you
are wheelchair-bound and in considerable discomfort with pangs of pain.
No one in the eatery would say you were “doing your best”
if they saw you. However, you are trying to make the most of the night,
so you tag yourself at the restaurant on your Facebook in a quick post
with no pictures. This is where the trouble can begin.
An insurance investigator might come across your post, see that you were
very much out of bed, and argue that you have intentionally exaggerated
the extent of your injuries. They will have solid ground to deny your
claim or at least lower your compensation. Arguing against them to regain
your legal footing will be difficult because they have evidence –
a screenshot of your post if it was not deleted – and you only have
Such types of posts are exactly what insurance companies want to find.
They will crawl through your social media accounts shortly after you file
a claim to look for anything that might contradict your statements and
give them a chance to deny your claim.
No Privacy in the Social Media Age
You might be thinking that you have your social media pages marked as
Private, so only close friends and family can see what you post. Under that logic,
the posts you make should be confidential, right? Unfortunately, wrong.
Across several notable cases, courts have consistently ruled that your
posts to social media apps are
not confidential. Essentially, all social media posts belong to the public
sphere and can be used or investigated as needed without any additional
legal intervention. Even if you switch your account or profile to private,
this does not add any protections or privacies as far as a court will
The logic behind these rulings is that posts cannot be considered private
as long as someone other than the original poster can access it at-will.
Your account might be private, but your friends on Facebook can still
come to see what you are posting whenever they want – and they can
even share what you posted to others with one click.
There is one caveat, though: Private posts can only be retrieved through
evidence discovery if there is good reason to believe they could be relevant
to litigation. In other words, your locked and private posts cannot be
forced open to an investigator on a whim. First, the investigator would
need to give the court a reason to suspect that there could be a useful
post somewhere in your social media, such as if they saw someone who looked
like you in a picture on your friend’s boating trip post when you
have reported injuries that would preclude you from such an activity.
Close Social Media Accounts for a While
The safest thing you can do while you have a pending personal injury claim
is to just stay off social media entirely. Uninstall the apps on your
smartphone if that helps. Or password protect all your accounts but keep
that password away from yourself by entrusting it to a close friend. They
can change your password, write it down somewhere secure, and only tell
you where it is written once your case concludes.
No random posts mean that there will be no random evidence the opposition
could try to use against you. But just as you have to be careful about
what you post, you also need to be careful about what you delete. Going
through all of your social media profiles and deleting as much as possible
will look suspicious, and the insurance company could try to say you tampered
Again, the smartest choice might be staying away from social media entirely
until your case ends.