Do you ever feel like you are being watched? You very well may be if you have a Facebook page.
First of all, no matter what privacy settings you use on Facebook (or any other social networking site), you must assume that everything you post will be viewed by the insurance company and their lawyers in your personal injury lawsuit. The best thing you can do for your case to stop using Facebook completely from the time of your accident through the conclusion of your case.
If you lack the willpower to do this, you should reconsider as the postings will be used against you and can cause your case to be worth much less. In other words, if you were offered $10,000.00 to not post on Facebook for six (6) months, I bet you could do that. So then why would you post when those posts can cost you so much more?
How Can My Facebook Account Be Accessed?
This is a pretty easy question to answer. Without needing to resort to any underhanded tactics (such as tricking you into “friending” one of their investigators), insurance company attorneys can get your Facebook information through discovery. The defense attorney will either request that you provide your Facebook posts or may even subpoena your Facebook account information and Facebook will likely produce the information.
How Can My Facebook Account Hurt My Lawsuit?
Let’s start with any photographs you’ve posted online. People post pictures of themselves on vacation, or outdoors, or at parties or other social functions. So if you are claiming a back injury in your lawsuit, but have posted pictures to Facebook of you after your accident on a jet-ski or dancing, how do you think that will look to a jury?
Sure, there are plenty of people with legitimate injuries who have perfectly good excuses for these types of photos: “I was having a rare good day when my pain wasn’t so bad,” or “Yeah, I did that, but I was bedridden with pain for a week afterward.” Do you want to rely on a jury believing these excuses?
Aside from photographs, you are delivering an unfiltered list of your friends to opposing counsel; friends who also have Facebook accounts which may contain photos of you (some of which you may never have seen). Have you de-friended someone? Who better to contact for information that could hurt your case than a former friend?
Giving Out Free Information About Yourself
In addition to photos, your comments can also sabotage your case. An injured person was about to go to trial in her personal injury case. There was no dispute that the other driver seriously injured her. As a result, she expected that she would net upwards of $250,000.00 after her case was decided. She then wrote a few posts about how she was about to come into a large sum of money and about how she would spend it. The defense attorney was able to get a copy of the entries. Then during the trial, he put copies of her posts up for everyone to see and asked the injured person what she meant. She had no explanation. When the jury gave her an award, it was less than $15,000.00.
What Does This Mean For You?
A good rule of thumb for personal injury plaintiffs is not to put anything on Facebook that you would not gladly hand over to the insurance company and their attorneys. That is because that is exactly what you will be doing when you Facebook.
If you or a loved one has been injured, we can help. Call us today for a free consultation.