The Internet and more specifically the influence of social networks have changed our society so that most of us now live in a fishbowl of our own making. Whether one’s social network of choice is Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkIn. Many people live their lives in very public view through regular and detailed posts on social media sites. While social media sites are immensely popular, they can be a huge liability if you are a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit resulting from another person’s negligent or intentional conduct. Insurance investigators, insurance defense attorneys, police and others now routinely search social media sites to develop evidence in personal injury lawsuits. If you have pictures and content on social media sites, you may want to consider removing these pages during any pending personal injury lawsuit or at the very least be extremely careful regarding your activity on your social media pages.
Insurance company investigators in personal injury lawsuits routinely search social network websites for information on plaintiffs. Investigators may look for evidence that contradicts your version of the facts on how an injury occurred or undermines your claim regarding the seriousness of your damages. Damaging information on a social network site can constitute an admission and be used by an insurance company’s attorneys to undermine your claim. Some courts have actually required an accident victim to turn over their social network log-in information and content to attorneys for the other party’s insurance company.
There are a number of ways that information on social media sites may be used by the other party’s insurance company to compromise your personal injury claim including the following:
- Compromising Damage Claim: Investigators are often hired to take pictures of plaintiffs with serious injuries engaged in activities that are designed to suggest the victim’s injury claim is fraudulent. With the explosion of social media sites, plaintiffs now often do this spying work for insurance companies. If you have suffered serious back or neck injuries, the insurance company will look for pictures of you engaged in recreational or other physical activities to cast doubt on your claims of serious injury.
- Impugning Your Character: Evidence is not generally admitted solely to establish a person’s character. However, there are many exceptions to this general rule. An insurance company may look for pictures or comments on social media sites that will make you seem unsympathetic or like a “bad person” to a jury.
- Contradicting Liability Claim: Statements you make regarding your accident may be used to compromise or contradict your version of the accident.
- Challenging Causation with Pre-Existing Conditions: A very innocent comment may be taken out of context or misconstrued. You may make a rather innocuous comment on a social media site that “your back is killing you” which suddenly becomes the basis for claiming your injuries were the result of a prior incident or accident.
- Discovery of Witnesses: Content on your friends’ social media pages may make it obvious they have damaging information that could harm your case. The insurance company might attempt to friend that person to obtain damaging information or even subpoena that person to testify.
These are only a few obvious examples of the way that content and photos on social networking sites can have an adverse impact on your personal injury lawsuit. There are a number of steps that you can take to prevent social media sites from compromising your personal injury claim. The simplest solution is to remove all social media sites if you have a pending personal injury lawsuit. Alternatively, you should be very careful what you post on your social media sites. You should not post anything that has any connection to your accident or personal injury claim and avoid posting anything that the other party’s insurance company might use to undermine your claim or make you look bad. You should also use maximum privacy settings and check to see what comes up when someone searches for you on the site with your privacy settings in place. You should also refuse friend requests from anyone you do not recognize.
Free Consultation With a Kansas City Personal Injury Lawyer
Michael R. Lawless, P.A., Attorney at Law provides a free consultation, including evenings and weekends by appointment, at our Lenexa, Kansas or Grandview, Missouri offices. Our office in Lenexa is off of I-35 from 87th or 95th in Old Town at 93rd and Pflumm. Our Grandview office is conveniently located at the main street exit off of 71 Highway, next to Captain D’s. Call Kansas City personal injury lawyer Michael Lawless today at 1-800-734-3771, 913-681-5566 or 816-966-0099.