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Social Media Rules after an Accident

Social media has changed how people stay in touch with each other. Instead of waiting 10 years for your next class reunion, you can check in with your high school friends by visiting their profile and viewing their photos. People also use social media platforms to comment on politics, promote a small business, or complain about work.

Social media has also impacted personal injury cases. Anything you post is public—if your profile is public. Insurance companies regularly search out information about injured victims, and they turn around and use the information against you in a negotiation. Call Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys after any accident. We can represent you in settlement talks with the defendant and their insurer. We will also provide tips for how to handle social media. The less you say on Facebook or another platform, the better.

Why Social Media Posts Matter: Contributory Negligence

Why does it matter what you post on a Facebook or Twitter profile? Isn’t it normal to talk about an accident? Here’s why what you say in public matters:

Georgia recognizes a modified comparative negligence rule, which you can find at O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33. If you are at least 50% responsible for an accident, then you cannot receive compensation. Even if you are less at fault, your compensation is reduced in proportion to your share of responsibility. Consequently, someone who is 40% at fault will receive 40% less. That is a big bite out of any settlement.

Insurers are digging for evidence to use to show you are partially to blame for your accident. They would love nothing more than to see you admit you were texting and driving when you were involved in a crash. Or that you had had something to drink before getting into your car and involved in a wreck.

How Social Media Posts Hurt Your Case

In addition to accidentally admitting fault, you can hurt your case in other ways. For example, you might give an insurance adjuster ammunition to claim you aren’t really hurt.

We receive compensation for our clients to cover medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain. An insurance company would love to see you out visiting friends or even traveling with your spouse on vacation. If they find pictures of you at a birthday party, they might claim you aren’t really in pain because you left the house. They will then reduce the amount of compensation they offer you in a settlement.

Some social media platforms will even automatically “check in” whenever you visit a business. This can happen without you knowing. Too much checking in can come back to prove you aren’t seriously hurt.

10 Steps to Protect Your Right to Compensation

We strongly recommend going on a social media cleanse to protect your rights. It’s tough—indeed, some people can’t go cold turkey without having withdrawal symptoms. Nonetheless, limiting your social media use can pay dividends during a personal injury claim.

By following these steps, you can frustrate cybersurveillance from insurance adjusters.

1.       Set your profile to private. This is an option on practically all social media platforms. By making your profile private, you can prevent insurance adjusters from gaining easy access to your profile.

2.       Do not add friends for the duration of your case. Insurance companies could have a secretary try to add you as a friend. That would give them access to your profile.

3.       Refuse to engage with direct messages from people you don’t know. This could be someone related to the defense trying to get you to talk about the incident. Shut off direct messages, if that is an option on the platform.

4.       Avoid discussing the accident. You never know whether an insurance adjuster will grab onto an innocent statement to show you are partially to blame for an accident. For example, you might say, “I never even saw the car that hit me!” To an insurance adjuster, this sounds like you weren’t paying attention and were driving distracted.

5.       Don’t discuss how your rehab is going. An upbeat attitude—“I’m making progress!”—could be used to show you aren’t in much pain, or that you are improving rapidly when, in reality, you are still struggling.

6.       Go cold turkey on social media. This is the best choice, even if you make a profile private. In some cases, a judge might give the defense permission to access your profile. That doesn’t happen often, but it could.

7.       Don’t post pictures of yourself. If you travel, then you shouldn’t post pictures. Don’t even post pictures at home. Most people smile automatically in a photo, even if you are feeling terrible.

8.       Untag yourself from other people’s photos. Did you go to a niece’s birthday party? You should expect other guests to post photos of the event and possibly tag you. The same is true of any event you go to. You should remove tags or, if the platform allows, prevent people from tagging you in the first place.

9.       Avoid deleting posts. This could constitute destruction of evidence. Also, deleted posts are usually recoverable. You aren’t gaining anything by deleting them. You can tell your lawyer if you have posted anything about the accident.

10.   Tell your lawyer about your social media profiles. Most of our clients have one or more profiles. It’s perfectly fine. Just let us know about it, so we can talk in more depth about what other steps you can take to make your profiles secure.

Remember, nothing is really deleted from the internet. Your best bet is to simply stop posting until your case is completed. You can keep friends updated on your condition by using the telephone.

Speak with a Media Savvy Personal Injury Lawyer

We have helped thousands of people win their personal injury cases. We have the tools you need to win a settlement after a car accident, truck collision, slip and fall, or other accident. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our office.

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