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Social media and your personal injury claim

The accident left you injured and suffering. You spent much of your time in bed until your family coaxed you outside for a picnic with some friends. Your dad told a joke, and you laughed, and since it was the first time you had laughed since the accident, someone snapped a picture and posted it on your Facebook wall. Could that picture damage your personal injury claim?

You have probably heard the warnings to limit your exposure on social media. Predators, your exes and potential employers may be stalking you to learn details about your life. However, did you know that insurance companies and defense attorneys also use social media to find evidence to use against you in your personal injury case?

Facebook tells a different story

If you are pursuing a claim for injuries you suffered in an accident, you are likely seeking compensation for your medical bills as well as your pain and suffering. Your attorney will present medical experts and perhaps call your closest friends and family to support your claims. The attorney of your opponent has the challenge of refuting or minimizing your claims to avoid a ruling requiring his or her client to pay your medical bills and other expenses.

As long as your status on Facebook is public, everything you post is available for anyone to see. You have no expectation of privacy, so the pics of you rollerblading or jet skiing after your accident will be easy to download and present in court as evidence that you are not suffering pain and loss of mobility as you claim. The attorney for your opponent is within the bounds of law to access this information.

How private is private?

While the defendant's attorney will need a warrant to read your text messages and emails, you may inadvertently give the lawyer access to your social media even if you have privacy settings on your account. If you accept friendships indiscriminately, you may not realize that you have given permission to your opponent's attorney to scour through your pictures and posts gathering evidence against your claim.

Even the most innocent posts or comments may become evidence that you are not suffering as you say you are. Victims of accidents who claim their injuries have isolated them have been known to lose cases simply because their friends post happy birthday greetings on their walls. To avoid such consequences, it may be in your best interests to avoid sharing on social media as much as possible and to ask your online friends not to make any posts about your accident until your case is settled.

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