With over 600 million active users it seems like everyone is on Facebook these days. Social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter are quick and easy ways to keep in touch with family and friends. These sites allow users share information about their personal lives by uploading photographs and information about what they are doing or thinking. However, using Facebook comes with substantial risks, especially if you were recently in an accident.
Numerous cases that have recently been decided have concluded that user data on Facebook and other social media websites are discoverable and can be used as admissible evidence. For instance, there have been several cases where a plaintiff has made allegations about the effect of their injuries on their daily lives and the defendant has subpoenaed the content of the plaintiff’s social media websites. The statements and photographs, which were obtained by the defendant, dramatically damaged the plaintiff’s case.
Opposing attorneys, and insurance adjusters will do everything they can to minimize your claim, and they sometimes find a treasure trove of information on sites like Facebook. Facebook’s privacy settings will not protect you from opposing attorney’s that are trying to access your page. A defense attorney can ask a judge to require written authorization from you for access to your Facebook account. This will allow opposing attorneys to see everything you have posted to Facebook. They will use that information to distract a jury and possibly damage a case by presenting comments and pictures that make you appear untrustworthy.
Further, insurance adjusters have recently attempted to “friend” accident victims on Facebook. This is an alarming trend. Insurance adjusters for the opposing insurance company are not your friends. Their job is to minimize your claim so you do not collect as much. They are looking out for the best interest of their employer, not you.
The best thing you can do if you are involved in an accident is to be truthful and honest. But remember, there are real perils to publishing anything on the Internet. Once you put something online it is public, despite what your privacy settings might say. So, if you don’t mind opposing lawyers and insurance adjusters seeing comments or photos about where you are or what you have been up to than feel free and post them. However, by not using Facebook or Twitter after an accident you prevent opposing attorneys and insurance adjusters an opportunity to destroy your case or deny you just compensation.
Therefore, as helpful as social media websites are in allowing us to communicate rapidly with our friends on a daily basis they should be used with caution after an accident. Once an accident has occurred social media websites are used by opposing attorneys and insurance companies as tools to wreck your case.