A few years back, we represented a client who was involved in a life-changing accident. The insurance company did everything they could to discredit her injury claim. They even went as far as to hire a private investigator to sit outside her home and photograph every move she made in an attempt to prove she was not hurt.
Why do we share this story with you? Because an insurance company may be using this investigative tactic on you. But unlike our client in the story, they are doing it through your social media pages. Yep, you heard right. They are stalking your social media accounts.
On July 22, 2020, we recently came across this question on a private networking forum proposed by a Minnesota legal marketing company asking, “When we receive a charge or complaint, part of the investigation involves pulling up public information posted on the complainant/plaintiff’s social media sites. We are not friending the complainant/plaintiff, just checking publicly-available information on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Up to now, our paralegals have been using their own (legitimate) social media accounts, but they have asked the firm to create firm social media accounts that would be used solely for this purpose. We are concerned that if our paralegals use a firm account, even with the strictest privacy settings, we will show up in the complainant/plaintiff’s social media account as potential “friends” who have searched them or would like to connect with them. We are curious what other firms are doing to avoid being detected while searching social media sites.”
The fact is, it is perfectly legal for a defense firm to look for, print, and submit your social media postings, messages, and videos as evidence against you in a trial. Once upon a time, it wasn’t easy to sway a jury into believing that what was seen or read on social media accounts were accurate. Too many variables and skepticism made it ticky to convince a jury what they were seeing were produced and posted by the plaintiff. However, now that social media has become part of our daily lives and culture, it is much easier to convince a jury by merely providing a screenshot of your social media posts, messages, or viewing your YouTube channel.
Something as small as a location check-in or a family member tagging you can inadvertently arouse suspension and give the insurance company ammunition to use against you. There are ways to avoid this, and that is to think before you post. Here you will find some tips to help guide you through posting during your personal injury case:
Do not post or respond to any comments or images of the accident. Instead, call your family and friends with updates. We’re sure they will appreciate hearing your voice.
Do not post details of your medical treatments, diagnoses, or conversations with your doctor or attorney. All this information is private anyway, so…keep it private.
Ignore those friend requests. Remember the investigator in our story; it could be him.
Do not post videos of you dancing, drinking, partying, or your travels. That TikTok video you made while self-isolating was good, but the insurance company will think it’s amazing when they use it against you in court.
Do not share images and comments on how you want to spend your settlement money. Sometimes settlement amounts are confidential, so “mums” the word.
Do have that conversation with friends and family about what they are sharing on their socials too. That private investigator could be coming for them also.
When in doubt, don’t post it. And if you’re unsure, give us a call, we’ll point you in the right direction.
To learn more about the case mentioned in this Blog, follow the link.
*The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available for information purposes only. The information provided should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer-client relationship. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon an advertisement.