Don’t Let Facebook Destroy Your Car Accident Claim
After a North Carolina car accident, it’s natural to want to reach out to friends and family – for help, for emotional support, or just to vent about the events of your day. When you talk about the crash on Facebook or other social media sites, you are making essentially public statements that may be used to undermine your claim. You are opening yourself up to fights with the insurance company or the loss of your claim entirely.
It is important to be aware that posting to Facebook after a car accident can result in significant harm to your case. That advice applies to Facebook, as well as other social media such as Twitter or Instagram. After a car accident, you want to do everything in your power to present the best possible case and to obtain compensation for your injuries. You might wonder what to say on social media after an accident. The answer is simple: say nothing, and post nothing.
Instead of posting questions and comments about your accident on social media and jeopardizing your claim, reach out to an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney to learn more about getting started on your case.
Five Ways Facebook and Other Social Media Sites Can Ruin Your Car Accident Claim
Insurance companies monitor social media sites. If you file a claim, chances are good that someone from the insurance company or the opposing party will search you out on social media. Here are just a few of the ways your social media posts can destroy your case:
- Information about your activities can be used to claim you’re not injured.
A social media post showing you in your garden, on vacation, or even just hanging out at a backyard barbecue might be used as evidence that your injuries are not as bad as you claim – even if you were only standing in the garden for a few minutes or were gritting your teeth to get through the party.
- Comments about the accident might be read as your admission of fault.
Fault in a car accident can be a complicated question. Your casual comments about what happened in the accident, like “I never saw him coming” or “My old rust bucket of a car caused a crash!” can be interpreted by insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys to imply you are admitting fault, even when you are not legally responsible for the accident.
- Posting “too much” can be used to claim you didn’t suffer emotional distress.
Car accidents can be terrifying, and the pain and emotional trauma of serious injuries can be devastating. If you are taking part cheerfully on your social media streams like nothing happened, an insurance company may try to argue that the accident did not affect you as much as you claim and therefore you do not deserve compensation for emotional trauma.
- Talking about your case may negate the confidentiality of your information.
When you share information about your case on social media, it becomes public knowledge. Any confidentiality protections, such as those you have when you talk to your attorney, no longer apply. Because car accidents often involve sensitive medical and financial information, it is best to keep updates on your case to yourself.
- Bad-mouthing the insurance company may be read as a sign of bad faith.
We all want to vent our frustrations when involved in a lengthy insurance claim battle. But if you put your frustrations in writing online, the insurance company may try to argue that you are not negotiating in good faith – and that therefore the insurer should not have to negotiate with you at all. Even if you believe you have your settings on Facebook, Twitter, or another site set to “private” or “friends only,” anything you post to these sites has the potential to become public – and to be seen by insurance adjusters or other people in a position to use this information to deny your claim.
How Should I Handle Social Media After a Car Accident?
With so many potential “traps,” what are the best ways to handle social media after a car accident? Consider these tips:
- Set your social media accounts to “private,” so that only your current friends can see what you post. If the site allows you to prevent friends from writing on your social media stream or sharing what you post, activate these protections as well.
- Avoid adding new friends or followers unless you know them and trust them. Never add an insurance adjuster or other insurance company employee.
- For the best results, avoid posting entirely until your claim is resolved. If you do post, never mention your accident or your claim. Update trusted friends and family members privately, and warn them not to mention the claim online.
Private Profiles Are Not Private
You might have heard that making your Facebook or Twitter accounts “private” can prevent anyone from pulling information from those accounts in the event of a courtroom trial for a car accident claim. That is incorrect. Limiting public access to your social media accounts does not prevent the defense from gaining access to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, or other social media accounts. Defense attorneys can gain access to private messages, and in some cases to posts that you have deleted.
This does not mean that you should avoid using the “private” setting if you plan to keep your social media accounts active after the accident. Privacy settings can help to prevent other users from tagging you in photos or posting information to your social media pages.
What to Say on Social Media After an Accident
What should you say on social media after you have been involved in a car accident? Do not say anything about the accident. Avoid posting updates or images of yourself after the crash. We cannot stress enough: do not post to social media after your accident.
When we say that you should avoid any communication on social media, we are not just referring to comments specifically about the car accident. For instance, imagine that you are seeking compensation for whiplash injuries sustained in a Raleigh car accident. Then, imagine that you posted an update on Facebook that mentions driving to Cameron Village or Crabtree Valley Mall to do some shopping. The defense might argue that you would not have been able to drive if you were dealing with whiplash injuries. If you were to post a photo of yourself on a nature walk, the defense lawyers might try to use the photo to suggest that your injuries were not serious enough to prevent you from taking a walk.
Is it Legal to Subpoena Social Media?
Can the defense subpoena information on your social media account? Absolutely. The North Carolina Court system provides an information sheet about subpoena compliance for social media in North Carolina, including contact information for Facebook, Instagram, Google (and Google+), MySpace, Twitter, and Yahoo! (which includes Flickr photo accounts).
The primary federal law concerning the discovery of information in social media accounts is the Stored Communications Act, which is part of the larger Electronic Communications Privacy Act. However, this law does not make social media posts private when it comes to discovery in a car accident lawsuit.
Getting Tagged in Pictures
You do not want the other side in your car accident claim to have access to photos on social media accounts in which you have been tagged. If other social media platform members have the ability to tag you in photos without your permission, you may not be aware of the picture being painted of you after the car accident.
If you keep your social media accounts active, be sure that you have h2 privacy settings in place to prevent others from tagging images of you, or mentioning you, on any social media sites.
Contact a North Carolina Car Accident Attorney
At Hardison & Cochran, our experienced Raleigh car accident attorneys are dedicated to protecting our clients’ legal rights while pursuing the compensation they deserve. Contact us