Tens of millions of Americans spend time on social media. We use it to document our lives and keep in touch with friends and family. It’s where we share items of personal interest and, increasingly, where we get our news.
In the aftermath of a personal injury, many people increase their time on social media while laid-up in bed, recovering. Some have the understandable instinct to post about their accident and the harm they suffered. Others simply continue uploading pictures and videos as if nothing ever happened.
Most personal injury victims, however, do not realize that spending time on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and other social media platforms can seriously and irreparably harm their rights to receive compensation for their injuries and losses.
If you recently suffered a personal injury in an accident or incident caused by someone else’s careless or wrongful conduct, here’s why you should think twice before using social media.
Our Best Lives, But Rarely Our Real Lives
Social media has a way of distorting how people view us. The pictures, videos, and comments we post tend to show only the side of ourselves and our lives that we want others to see. We select the best images that capture us in the most flattering light. We write about our triumphs and, often, downplay (or omit) our failures. We get a thrill out of saying or sharing something that gets a bunch of likes, even if it’s not exactly accurate. In all, our social media selves tend to live in a highly sanitized, quasi-fantasy version of our actual, day-to-day realities.
And look, most of the time that’s fine. Who wouldn’t want others to see their best selves? Curating our lives on social media only becomes problematic when it causes us real-life problems.
Insurance Adjusters Will Use Your Best Life Against You
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what can happen when you use social media at the same time you seek compensation for a personal injury. You see, the party on the hook for paying your personal injury damages probably carries liability insurance covering your claim. Insurance companies, however, don’t like paying liability claims, and will look for any reason at all not to pay you.
If you’re not careful, the insurance adjuster handling your claim will find lots to work with on your social media accounts. That idealized version of your life — which you posted and wrote about — can become the prime witness against you. We’ve seen it happen:
- You say you’re traumatized by a crash, but here’s a TikTok of you laughing and dancing last week. You sure look happy to us.
- You claim you suffered a back injury, but here you are in a picture on Instagram posted days after the accident smiling and pushing your granddaughter on a swing. Your back seems fine!
- Your attorney insists you’re under financial strain, but here’s a recent Tweet you posted about your new flat screen TV.
These sorts of comments aren’t fair, usually. The TikTok video doesn’t show that you’re barely holding back tears. The picture of you at the playground was actually taken before the accident, but posted afterwards. You didn’t mention on Twitter that the flat screen was a gift.
But still, now you have something you need to explain-away. It’s an error you didn’t need to make that can erode your claim by casting doubt about your credibility and the amount of money you deserve to receive. Maybe you and your lawyer can overcome the problems created by one or two stray social media posts that contradict your claims of pain, suffering, and expense, but more than a handful can cause major headaches. They can even sink your case completely, a self-inflicted death-by-a-thousand-posts.
Posts About The Accident and Your Injuries Don’t Help Either
So, you may be thinking, is it ok to post on social media about my accident and how bad my injuries are? That’s not my best life, so it can’t harm my case, right?
We hear where you’re coming from, but the answer is still no. Posting about your accident and injuries can absolutely damage your personal injury claim. In fact, we’d go so far to say that posting to social media after an accident, no matter what you share, has virtually zero upside for your personal injury claim, and potentially unlimited downside. Why? Because any post, regardless of what it says about an accident or injury, risks:
- Oversimplifying what happened to you, which can undermine claims you may have against parties whose fault wasn’t initially obvious;
- Contradicting the evidence that eventually emerges about how the accident or your injuries actually happened and who is to blame;
- Misstating the details of an injury in a way that affects the analysis of how much money you should receive, such as for future medical costs; or
- Falsely accusing someone of causing your injuries before you’re absolutely sure of the facts, which can land you in legal hot water.
We could go on, but you get the point. You gain nothing by sharing details of your accident and injuries on social media, while risking everything.
This Just Isn’t the Time to Be Giving Strangers Access to Your Life
We can almost hear where your mind is going next. Ok, so what if I just go on social media without posting? I’ll just browse, send likes, accept friend requests, that kind of stuff.
Nice try, but no, that’s still a bad idea. Insurance adjusters will use your social media activity against you in any way they can. If the platform allows it, they’ll start following you, which will put your likes and reposts in their timelines. They may try to send you friend requests, or slide into the comments of posts you’ve liked to try to get a reaction from you to something they say. They’ll take note of any posts you delete (don’t do that, by the way — it looks like you’re covering something up). At a bare minimum, they’ll be able to see the dates and times you’ve been online and what’s caught your interest.
There is nothing helpful in giving insurance adjusters a view into your life like that. It can only hurt you and undermine the value of your claim for compensation.
Hands Off Social Media For Now
Difficult as it may sound, the best attitude to take toward social media after suffering a personal injury is “hands off”. Taking time away from your accounts while you pursue legal action for your personal injury improves your chances of a favorable outcome and protects you from making costly mistakes. That way, after your case is over, you really will have something happy to post about: that your lawyer got you the money you needed and deserved.
To learn more about the effect of social media use on a personal injury claim, contact a skilled attorney today.