*As Published in the Hempfield Suburban News
Along with Spring, Lancaster County is abuzz with outdoor activity. And, hand-in-hand with Lancastrians shedding the chains of Winter comes a flurry of social media posts about all of the outdoor fun. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube, in today’s world, it takes only a few moments for a personal activity to become a public one. While sharing your adventures with friends and family is exciting and gives rise to good discussion, could your social media musings negatively impact your auto accident, slip and fall or workers’ compensation injury claim? The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Every time I meet with a new personal injury client, I advise them to cease and desist all social media posting. Why? Because, once you hit the “post” button, your personal history becomes a part of the public domain. And, when that happens, it is generally fair game for all of the interests that are working against you in the legal process. In other words, insurance companies, claims adjusters, defense attorneys, employers, supervisors and even co-workers are champing at the bit to get the details of your accident and injuries to find out how and what you are doing, and, hopefully, use this information to their benefit. If I cannot convince my client to refrain from all social media posting, below are a couple of the tips I give them.
Do not post anything about the accident, your injuries or your treatment. A simple comment like, “I’m feeling much better” or “it’s not that bad,” taken out of context or not relative to the immediate past, can be used as cross examination material, should you testify, or as a basis to mitigate the value of your bodily injury claim. Also, the mere capability to continue issuing social media posts, in and of itself, can be interpreted as evidence that your injuries are not significant enough to keep you from formulating the thoughts and opinions that comprise these posts. This is especially true for accident victims who have suffered head injuries.
Do not post anything about what you are doing. By telling the world about the errands that you run, the restaurants where you eat or the gym where you work out, you are giving the opposing party in a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim a ready-made argument against the severity of your injuries. What is an employer going to think if your doctor is not allowing you to return to work yet you are able to shop at the outlets or dine out at a local restaurant during the day? What is the claims representative from the insurance company, who will be evaluating your claim, going to think when she sees photographs of you at a concert? On the one hand, you are trying to convey to her how substantially the accident and your injuries have impacted your life; but, on the other, you are sending the message that life has gone on, undeterred. There can be a perfectly logical explanation for what you are doing, but, as we all know, many times, perception is reality.
Getting injured in a car accident or hurt at work does not mean that you have to stop living. In other words, returning to some sense of normalcy can be therapeutic, physically, mentally and emotionally. However, once you put your accident, injuries, treatment and recovery at issue in the forum of pursuing a personal injury claim, you have now opened yourself up to surveillance, investigation and watchful eyes. By utilizing common sense when deciding if or what to post via social media, you can help avoid misunderstandings concerning your claim and work to ensure full compensation for the losses you have endured.