How Social Media Can Devastate Your Accident Claim
Americans love to use social media. We share our family lives, our professional ups and downs, politics, and neighborhood gossip online. Unfortunately for those involved in severe accidents, social media use opens a window into their lives they may later wish stayed closed.
Callaway & Wolf is a personal injury law firm founded 26 years ago by Boone Callaway and Carl Wolf. We provide individual, attentive, and conscientious legal services to those seriously injured in accidents from our offices in San Francisco and Oakland. Callaway & Wolf knows what it takes to have a successful case, including avoiding problems like social media use that can harm your injury claims. Call us today at 415-541-0300 to schedule a free consultation.
Silence is Golden
If you’re arrested, police are required to give you a Miranda warning. It’s a reminder of constitutional rights. Part of the statement includes the facts you have right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney, and to have the attorney present during police questioning. These are also good words to live by if you file a personal injury lawsuit.
Besides your lawyers and doctors, you don’t need to discuss your injuries or the case with anyone. If you do so, that’s your choice, but choices and words have consequences. What you say about your situation is fair game for an insurance company’s investigation.
What you say to others could be used as evidence against you at trial. It could contradict your testimony if what you say in the case is inconsistent with what you’ve said to others (including on social media).
Social Media Posts Put a Spotlight on Your Life
The Pew Research Center estimates about 70% of Americans use social media, so chances are good you’re one of them. The other party’s insurance company will probably look for the words, photos, and videos you post on social media. It’s a key resource for looking into claims because so many of us love to talk about ourselves.
Insurance companies investigate claims for many reasons. Company staff and lawyers will try to verify how the accident happened, its cause, and who’s to blame. Adjusters will also want to know if you’re injured and to what degree. They will also search for reasons to deny or reduce your claim as well as for factual and legal defenses if your case goes to trial.
Whether you talk to a neighbor, a co-worker, or post something on social media, that’s all potentially discoverable by the insurance company. Like someone in police custody, the more you say, the more you can get yourself into trouble.
Loose Lips Sink Insurance Claims
As part of your claim, we’ll state what caused the accident and who’s at fault. An insurance company would love to find a social media post that contradicts us, puts more of the blame on you, or makes you look bad in any way. If your post doesn’t match your claim, it hurts your credibility. That’ll make it more difficult to get the kind of settlement you want and may hurt your chances at trial.
Social media posts make it seem you caused the accident, or are more at fault that you admitted, making your case worth less money:
- You were going a little too fast
- You were using your smartphone at the time of the accident
- You were talking to a passenger
- You had a couple drinks before getting behind the wheel
Painting Rosy Pictures Can Cost You Some Green
Your injuries and how they impact you are critical issues in your case too. Your claim will include the injuries you suffered, how painful they are, how they limit your life, if they’ve impacted your income, and how your emotions and feelings are affected.
If you post on social media that you’re feeling and doing better than what you tell your physicians and in your insurance claim, that will get investigators’ attention. Generally, the more severe and longer-lasting the injury, the more your case is worth. If you give them evidence your injuries aren’t all that serious, and that your recovery is speeding along, contradicting your claim, it will hurt your case.
Making statements or publishing photos or videos showing an active, happy life, if that’s the opposite of your insurance claim, will be a problem. Stating you’re physically limited, rarely get out of your home, and too incapacitated to work while posting photos of you riding a bike, enjoying a meal out with friends, or taking a long walk with your dog, would be a terrible idea. It would support the insurance company’s defenses that you’re not as injured as you claim, your life hasn’t suffered much, and you can’t be trusted.
Keep it Simple
When you discuss your situation with friends or family, in person or online, keep it short and simple. The insurance company will see your posts, so the less said, the better.
Social media can connect you to the outside world when you’re isolated because you’re recovering from an injury. You can discuss anything you want, whether that’s politics, sports, the weather, your kids, or cooking. If some connection could be made between what you’re stating and your case, directly or indirectly, don’t post it.
Get the Help You Need from Attorneys You Can Trust
If you’re injured because of another’s negligence, the lawyers at Callaway & Wolf can help. Your consultation will be free, and we work on a contingency fee basis, so there’s no risk to you. Call us today at 415-541-0300 and schedule an appointment at our San Francisco or Oakland office to learn more about how our experienced attorneys can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Boone Callaway is a personal injury & medical malpractice lawyer in San Francisco who has been working with clients in the Bay Area for over 25 years. Mr. Callaway is one of only a few personal injury litigators in San Francisco who is a Super Lawyer, AV Rated and is also a member of ABOTA – American Board of Trial Advocates.