Perils of Using Social Media to Discuss Your Car Accident
By Zachary Mushkatel on May 11, 2015
Many people do not think twice about voicing their opinions, sharing their thoughts, and updating friends on their day-to-day activities via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The problem is that posting your personal information on the various social media sites could create problems for you as well, particularly in injury cases.
Information you post is accessible by everyone, and possibly those that shouldn’t. This is the case when social media platforms are used to provide details about an accident or injury claim. Posting pictures of your accident, discussing your claim online, and even updating friends and family on your progress in recovery could have a negative impact on the value of your insurance claim, or even make it impossible for you to get the settlement you deserve.
Insurance Companies Scour Social Media When Car Accident Claims Are Filed
Insurance companies, once a claim has been filed, will scour your social media accounts and the Internet for any evidence of fraud. The objective is to discover whether the information in the insurance claim about your injuries is valid.
For example, if you post a picture of you and your friends out dancing the night after your accident, and the insurance claim you filed states you sustained serious back and neck injuries, that one image may be all the evidence an adjuster needs to completely deny your claim. Making comments about how you are going to back to work on Monday could lead an adjuster to believe your injuries were less severe than was reported, and could greatly reduce the value of your settlement.
Once your insurance claim is denied due to content you posted on social media, the process of resolving your claim becomes far more complex, requiring an appeal to be filed, explaining, for example, that in order to work, your employer is putting you on a desk job due to your limited mobility. You would also need to provide additional evidence confirming the severity of your injuries. This will delay the payment of a settlement, and can significantly extend the time involved in getting your case resolved.
To contest a valid insurance claim your insurance company could use even prior comments and posts made via social media. Insurance companies are looking for any data about you that could allow them to have reason to pay a lower value settlement, or could help them to avoid having to pay out on claim altogether. Do not give them the ammunition they need to deny your claim or reduce the value of your personal injury claim.
Want to Protect Your Interests? Use Cautious Social Media Practices
If you want to protect your interests when filing a car accident claim or other claim, use cautious social media practices. Following these steps could help you expedite your insurance claim, and increase your chances of being able to recover a fair and just settlement.
- Before submitting your claim, take the time to review your social media accounts and remove any photos, videos or posts that could be used by insurance adjusters to weaken your injury claim. Your attorney can help you with this process if you have any questions or are uncertain about which content should be removed.
- Do not post any information about your accident. We realize how temping it may be to post pictures of your accident, or make comments about the at-fault driver or the cause of the accident, or to update friends, or talk about the potential value of your settlement. Don’t do it. Your legal case can be undercut if the insurance company investigators spot any indication you could have exaggerated or falsified the level of your injuries, or any evidence that you are not following doctor’s orders, or that you, in fact, may have played a role in causing the accident.
- Make sure to set your privacy settings so that only friends and family can see what you post. Any images marked “public,” are visible by any person, including insurance company investigators.
- Do not accept friend requests from people you do not personally know. Never accept a friend request from your insurance agent or adjuster. Regardless of how nice the person may appear, the only reason you would could receive such a request is so the insurance adjuster is able to gather any information that could reduce the value of a settlement or provide a basis to deny your claim.
If a car accident has injured you or a loved one, contact Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC at once. Our attorneys are well aware of the potential risk social media postings could pose to your case. We have years of experience dealing with insurance companies and understand the tactics they could employ to avoid paying out fair compensation. Talk to our team about your vehicle accident, and let us help you with every detail, including removing any social media information that could create a problem for you. Call now for immediate assistance.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.