In short, your Facebook activity could hurt your case. Why is that? It’s simple—your posts are admissible as admissions by a party opponent. For example, if you’re claiming to be injured, and telling your attorney that you’re injured, but go and post a picture of yourself bungee jumping, you are essentially telling the defendant that you’re not actually injured. Much like employers, insurance companies will comb the internet for information about you looking for inconsistencies in your complaint and in your demand letter. Those inconsistencies open the door for them to lower their counter-offer. Thus, your Facebook post could very likely reduce your recovery.
Keep in mind, if you really are not hurt, don’t claim that you are hurt. Lying to an insurance company is fraud. Worse for the attorneys is that we don’t know if you’re lying if you are able to produce medical records that support your claim. We can be censured by the court for not conducting our due diligence if you are caught in a lie. Therefore, it’s not just you who may by indicted for a crime, but your attorney may also be sanctioned by the court under Rule 90. That’s not fun for anyone involved.
So, what can you do to remain active on social media without harming your claim? Consider these factors: 1) Are your injuries visible in a photo? 2) Can your postings be perceived as proof that you’re not injured? 3) Is your social media visible to the public or is it set to private? 4) Could others be tagging you in photos that show that you are less injured than you are claiming? 5) Are there spiteful people that may forward your publicly available content to an insurance company? 6) Do you need to filter and cleanup your social media presence? 7) Do others know about your pending claim? 8) How much have you told others about your injuries? 9) Does your social media following have access to your personal information? And lastly, 10) how necessary is this post to your online presence?
In essence, think before you post about your life on social media. It is becoming more and more common for people’s claims to fail because they lied to their attorneys and also provided proof to the insurance companies that they weren’t as injured as they initially claimed. It’s fine if your bodily injury has healed or is lesser in magnitude than initially thought, but it is important to convey that information to your attorney, first. This way they can alert the insurance company and in some cases the court.
There are some excellent examples of clients losing out on their recovery and all of the money that could have entailed because of their social media postings. To help you understand this issue, the following are some examples of social media postings harming claims:
- A female client claimed that she injured her foot and lower leg due to a motor vehicle accident that she was in earlier that month. More specifically, she had told her attorney that she was permanently injured and would require a lifetime of treatment. Her initial medical exam bolstered that claim, but she had eventually healed completely. She never told her attorney that she had healed and was no longer permanently injured. At trial, the attorneys for the defense presented blown up photos of her walking in high heels without difficulty after that accident had occurred. Needless to say, her suit was dismissed with prejudice and she was barred from recovering ANYTHING—even for the pain and suffering and medical expenses form the original injury.
- A male client claimed that he was not able to perform sexually because of a lower back injury he suffered due to a slip & fall accident. That type of injury is relatively common and so the attorneys and his doctor believed his claim. As a general rule it is fairly unusual for a man to say that he has been rendered impotent when he is not. His doctor recommended a long-term treatment for the client and stated that the accident caused this injury. The attorney submitted this claim to the property owner’s insurance company under premises liability. So far, a very standard chain of events for the attorney involved. The client was not happy with the insurance company’s offer and thus, instructed his attorney to file suit. At trial, the defense presented screenshots of the man’s Instagram posts of him bragging about sleeping with attractive women after his accident had occurred. His case was also dismissed with prejudice, but in his case, he was also investigated for insurance fraud. The attorneys were similarly sanctioned under Rule 90.
- A married couple had been posting derogatory claims about the defendant after filing suit. The statements were not only derogatory, but also false. The defendants immediately filed a counterclaim on the basis of libel per se, as it affected the defendant’s business. The married couple ended up owing more money than they had initially sued for at the outset of their claim. More egregious than just lying about the defendant, the plaintiffs in this case clearly tampered with the existing jury pool and at minimum would have compelled the judge to declare a mistrial.
If at any time you have a question or even a sliver of doubt as what to post, either wait an hour or don’t post it at all. Also, you can always contact the law offices of Des Moines Injury Lawyer to ask about your social media presence. Follow all the proper steps. If you need help, contact our law firm! A marriage license does not require fanfare, but it does require you to take the first step. For more information or to answer your legal questions, please contact Des Moines Injury Lawyer at 515-635-5423.