There are few things that are as difficult as dealing with a long term medical issue, especially if it is the result of an accident that justifies a lawsuit. Not only are you missing out on work and wages you should be earning, you are missing out on the fun parts of life: parties, hanging out with friends and family, and just generally being at your normal activity level. But, it is important to know what to do with your social media after an accident.
Many people try to push through their struggles, turning to social media to help give an air of happiness and normalcy. Social media is known for being a lense through which we filter our lives: it never shows a full picture. We only ever want show ourselves at our best, so we create the perfect model of our lives, regardless of how they really are. Your injury will be no different; who wants to post the reality and pain of their recovery when they can get some friends to help create a smiling picture with a beautiful backdrop? However, no matter how much pain you are in while you take that picture, it will not prevent your insurance company from using it to prove that they don’t need to pay you as much as you deserve.
Your Profile is a Public Account
What you post on social media is a matter of public record, and litigators and insurance companies can use this information against you if you file a personal injury claim. While private messages taken from your phone may be considered illegally obtained evidence, social media posts are fair to use.
One example of this is the case of Largent v. Reed, where the plaintiff claimed that an injury had left her with physical and mental injuries. The defendant presented photos that the plaintiff had shared on Facebook showing that she was clearly well enough to go to the gym and complete daily tasks. The judge ordered the plaintiff to surrender her social media information for further review. Her entire case was in jeopardy because of posts she never thought the court would never see.
If an insurance company can see your social media posts, they can use them against you. Your profile is considered a public account.
How Insurance Companies Use Your Posts
Insurance companies will use any source of information they can to deny or diminish your claim. This includes you anything you post on social media after an accident. For example, if you have a knee injury but you post a picture of yourself hiking or being physically active, the insurance company might argue that your injuries aren’t as bad as you’re claiming. Even if you’ve moved your crutches out of the picture to get that perfect insta-worthy pic, the photo will work against you.
Some insurance companies focus on social media posts during the research process. They will make a point to keep an eye on your accounts to see if they can use any of your posts to deny your claim. They won’t care if you put your crutches out of frame to look your best in the picture. If they can use it to imply that you’re not being honest about your injury, they will. If an insurance company can find your posts, they can use them.
Knowing this can protect you in the wake of an accident. You can take steps to lock down your social media after an accident and go dark if you need to. This temporary break from social media is worth it to protect your claim.
How to Lock Down Your Facebook
If you are filing a claim with an insurance company after an accident, it’s important to lock down your Facebook account to prevent insurers from using your photos and public updates against you.
In the Privacy section of your Facebook settings, limit who can see future posts by changing them from Public to Friends. This way, only people who you approve on your friends list can see what you post. Alternatively, you can limit the posts to Only Me and customize who sees certain posts on an individual post basis.
Once you have limited future posts, you can take steps to hide past posts as well. Under the “Who can see my stuff?” tab in the privacy settings, select Limit Past Posts. This will shut down your Facebook page to outside sources so other people can’t see what you have posted or will post in the future.
How to Delete Your Facebook
While you can take steps to limit who sees your Facebook posts by updating your privacy settings and removing friends who you aren’t close with anymore, the best way to remove social media posts from the web is to delete your Facebook account entirely.
There is a significant difference between deleting and deactivating your account. When you deactivate your account, no one can find it or find your posts. However, some content, like your messages, is still available. Conversely, a deletion is permanent, but Facebook might keep the information available to you for a few days in case you change your mind.
If you want to delete your Facebook page, you can find the option in Facebook’s help center. Under Settings, select the Your Facebook Information button and then select the Delete Your Account and Information tab. Before you delete your account, consider downloading your Facebook information to save for later so you can keep the photos and memories that came with the account.
How to Lock Down Your Twitter
Twitter is one of the most public social media channels on the web. For the most part, you can follow almost anyone you want, and you are encouraged to follow complete strangers to grow your following. However, if you have a claim filed against an insurance company, you don’t want them following your posts and using them against you.
To tighten your Twitter settings, go to your Privacy and Safety settings and select Protect My Tweets under the Privacy section. This will keep anyone who is not currently following you from seeing your tweets. You will have to manually approve anyone who wants to follow you.
While the Protect My Tweets option is secure for the most part, this option doesn’t always catch old images. Third parties might be able to see these old images even if you haven’t approved them to view your content.
Go Dark After an Accident
Insurance companies are going to try to use your social media content against you when you file a claim. The best way to prevent them from getting your information and spinning your posts is to not post anything at all. You may not be trying to hide anything, but you don’t know what insurance companies will try to use against you. It’s best not to give them the chance.
By going dark on social media after an accident, you decrease your chances that the insurance company will be able to find a reason to deny your claim. Even posts that seem innocent can get picked up by your insurance provider and used as evidence against you on the public record.
If you need to go dark on social media but worry that people won’t know how to reach you, create a post letting your friends and family know that you are just taking a social media break. You can also give them an alternative way to reach you. Once your claim is settled, you can return to social media and start creating posts again.
Asking Your Friends To Go Dark
Any post you make on social media after an accident that can be found by a third party — like an insurance company — can be used as a matter of public record in a court case. You can prevent insurance companies from accessing your information by changing your settings, deactivating your account, or going dark, but that won’t remove all the photos of you on the web. If you want to fully protect yourself from the prying eyes of insurance companies, ask your friends to change their privacy settings and go dark as well.
If your friend posts a photo of you or tags you in a post, an insurance company can use the content in a case against you. Talk to your friends and family and let them know about the case. Ask them to avoid posting anything with you in it and talk to them about going dark as well. If you and your friends go dark until your claim is settled, your insurance company won’t be able to find new posts that they can use against you.
An injury that is bad enough to justify a personal injury lawsuit impacts your life, but it’s important to stay on top of even minor things, like your social media presence, that can make your case harder. The best way to fight to get your life back is to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you get the settlement you deserve.