If you wanted information on a long lost friend, would you use the Internet to look for them? If you meet someone you may be interested in dating, would you check out their Facebook page? If your daughter starts dating a new guy that you were suspicious of, are you going to “Google” him? Check him out on Facebook? Would you “follow him” on Twitter to see what he says about his date with your daughter? If you were looking for dirt on someone, where would you look? The same places? What about the creepy guy that moved in down the street who seems to pay too much attention to the neighborhood children? Would you check the Internet to see if he is a registered sex offender? If you are applying for a job, don’t you think your prospective employer is going to “Google” you, check out your Facebook profile, check your “Tweets” or any other of the increasing social media outlets?
If you have a personal injury claim, don’t you think the insurance adjuster is going to “Google” you, check out your Facebook profile and generally search the Internet for anything they can find to make you look bad, embarrass you or use against you? If you are going to have your deposition taken, don’t you think the attorney taking the deposition has checked you out in every possible way on the Internet and maybe even through an investigator? When that same attorney is preparing his trial questions for you, he is likely to know everything about you that is posted on the Internet or that his investigator can find on you in public records.
Whatever the case, your social media profiles and Internet presences can be a good or bad reflection on you. Photos, status updates and comments can wreck your chances of ever dating that person you were interested in, ruin your chances of getting that job you were applying for and seriously harm your injury claim if you do not use discretion when posting.
After an injury, the best advice is do not post on the Internet, especially on social media sites, until your case is concluded. Stay away from social media sites altogether. Your best bet is to take down whatever social media sites you have altogether.
If there is no information about you on the Internet, there is nothing from your past that can be used against you. If you have posted information that is not 100% accurate or is in any way misleading, this can cast you in a negative light or can be twisted, and the information may be used against you. If you do not use your social media profile going forward, it is less likely that you will provide any incriminating information to insurance adjusters to manipulate or twist the truth.
A personal injury insurance adjuster’s job is to pay you as little as possible for your injury claim. If you provide the adjuster with incriminating information on your social media profile, be it old or new, it can be used to devalue your credibility and your claim. In some cases, an adjuster can confirm or disprove the severity of your injury by looking at your personal profiles.
Consider the following example. If you injured your back in a car accident and are claiming you cannot perform heavy lifting, are constantly in pain and cannot engage in your normal recreational activities, you don’t want contradictory information about you on the Internet. It would not be a good idea to post a video of you catching and holding a hundred pound tuna that you say you caught on a three-day fishing trip in Mexico while describing what a great time you had. The insurance adjuster on your personal injury claim will use that information in many different ways to devalue your claim and make you look like you are lying or at least exaggerating your injuries.
If your Facebook page mentions your love for street racing, and you have been injured in an auto accident, where you and the other driver each blame each other for speeding and running a red light, don’t you think your Facebook information is going to be used against you?
Again, the best advice when you have an insurance claim, especially a serious one, is to take down all of your social media personal information. Just take it down. Innocent and perfectly fine information on your social media pages” … can and will be used against you … “
If you insist on using your social media sites, here are a few simple rules you can follow
1. Check your Privacy Settings: Some social media sites, such as Facebook, will allow you to make your personal information and posts private. In Facebook, this means that only community members on your friends list will be able to view your status updates. You can go even further by creating friend lists with specific privacy policies applied to them.
2. When uploading photos, be selective on which photos are appropriate: If possible, set up filters that only allow friends to see your photo albums. For Facebook users, make sure you set your options for tagged photos. You should select “Only Me” for people who can view your tagged photos.
3. Only accept friend requests from people you know personally: An insurance adjuster may send you a friend request in hopes of gaining access to your personal information. You wouldn’t be the first person this has happened to. Best bet is to not add any new friends until your case is concluded. An adjuster may be a friend of your friend and get on your friend list through someone you trust, who is getting used by someone on their friend list.
4. Do not join groups with compromising names and/or discussions.
5. If possible, block certain people from viewing your profile. In Facebook, you can do this under the Settings. Additionally, you may want to remove yourself from the search results. You can do this by selecting “Only Friends” under search visibility.
6. For Facebook users, you can remove yourself from showing up in Google’s search results too: Go to your privacy settings page and uncheck the box under Public Search Listing. This is a must.
7. Keep your case private: Do not post any photos of your accident or give any information regarding your injury. If you need to send a message use e-mail, snail mail, or make a phone call.
Remember, the insurance adjuster and opposing attorney on your case will be searching for incriminating details regarding you and your personal injury claim. Ideally, it would be in your best interest to close down your social media sites during your case. This will ensure that you do not post any incriminating information and that you avoid the possibility that old information, although perfectly normal and innocent, ” … can and will be used against you … “. It will also ensure that your “friends” do not innocently post anything that could be used against you, much less your enemies.
Please contact us if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.