One of the first things that many people do when something happens to them, good or bad, is to alert their friends and family – some people will receive a phone call or a text, but the majority of your social circle is going to learn through social media. You might post about an auto accident as soon as it happens or while you’re in the hospital, learning news of your medical condition and what treatment will be needed. You might post about it when all of this is done and you get home to finally return to some sense of normality.
You have probably seen friends and relatives make similar posts about the auto accidents that they’ve been in, the injuries they’ve suffered, the medical treatment and recovery process. Some will set up accounts where people can donate to help them pay for their expenses.
Unfortunately, very few people realize that posting anything about the accident (or anything else) on social media is generally unwise and could damage your South Carolina auto accident claim.
Using Social Media After a South Carolina Auto Accident is a Mistake
The first thing you have to be aware of is that the insurance company can and will look at your social media account when they are investigating your claim. They will look for anything that you’ve said or posted about the accident and injuries; but they will also look for any pictures where you are smiling or any posts that indicate that you are not injured or suffering as much as you claim. An innocent post like, ”just baked cookies with the kids, having a great time” could damage your claim. Even a post that says, ‘I can finally use my arm again, things are looking up’ could damage your claim for pain and suffering. A photo of you smiling, regardless of the circumstances, is an indication that you aren’t suffering too much, after all.
Even updating your location one day on social media, like saying that you are at a bowling alley, a father-daughter dance, a local lake, or any kind of location where you would be expected to engage in physical activity could be used to counter your claims of injury. It doesn’t matter if you were not actually bowling, but just sitting with friends, or that you did nothing more than sit in a chair at the lake; what matters is that they are looking for absolutely anything that they can use against you to minimize the value of your claim, and much like a criminal case (unfortunately) anything you say (or post) can be used against you.
Does This Mean That You Should Avoid Social Media Altogether After an Accident?
Unfortunately for those who enjoy updating and socializing through social media, the answer to this question is YES! You should actually consider suspending the accounts temporarily, so that there is absolutely nothing that could be used against you in your auto accident claim. Don’t worry, though; you can always restore them, with all of your information and posts intact, when the process of recovering compensation is over. If you don’t feel comfortable with suspending the accounts, then you should still avoid using them, for any purpose, until the claim is over.
Moreover, it is not only photos and posts that you make yourself that could damage your claim, but also tags made by other people, posts from others that discuss your accident and/or your claim, and location check-ins made by other people.
Because the actions of your friends on social media could impact your claim, we recommend completely suspending your accounts until it is safe to resume use, after the claim has been resolved. This way, nobody else can tag you or talk about your claim in a way that might show up on your own account. You should also contact your friends and family in person or on the phone to request that they do not post about your accident or your claim on their own social media accounts. This is especially important if you aren’t going to deactivate your own account.
What If My Posts Are Seen By Friends Only?
Many social media platforms allow you to choose if your posts are public or are only seen by friends and family. Obviously, limiting visibility of your account to friends and family is safer than allowing them to be public, but this still does not protect you from the potential negative impact of social media on your claim. Because the court may order that you produce information from a “private” account, we still recommend that you do not use your account, suspend it temporarily if possible, and certainly don’t accept any new friend requests during the process of filing your claim and seeking compensation for your damages.
Contact a South Carolina Auto Accident Attorney to Help With Your Claim
If you or others have already made posts about your accident, your medical condition, or anything else that you think might harm your claim, you should delete them or ask the person who posted to delete them. Call the compassionate South Carolina auto accident attorneys at David R. Price, Jr. P.A. to learn more, get your questions answered, and find out how we can help you.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.