Injuries in the Age of Facebook and Twitter

Every day, thousands of people get hurt in car accidents, in workplace incidents, by falls, or by machine defects, etc.  While the injury may be real, wrongdoers and their insurers, as well as the injured person’s own insurer, would prefer to compensate the victim as little as possible.  They are also looking for indicia of fraud; all too often the news has stories of people who pretended to be injured more than they were to try to obtain a larger settlement.

One of the ways investigators, insurers, and attorneys investigate a claim is by reviewing the social media postings and interactions of the victim.  They are looking for photographs that substantiate or rebut claims of injuries:  if a person claims they can barely walk, there should not be photographs of them playing sports.  The victim or his friends may have made statements about how the injury happened, the events leading up to the injury, the aftermath, and the long term effects.  These all could help support or derail a claim.  However, as most postings are not reviewed by the lawyer for the victim prior to being posting, they can easily be misconstrued.  Someone may choose to endure hours of pain sitting on a plane in order to see their dying parent one last time, but it could be perceived as being easily able to get about when a posting has a location indicator hundreds of miles from home.  Even smiling for pictures could be misinterpreted.

Ideally, a lawyer would prefer his/her client remain off social media during the pendency of your claim to avoid any misunderstandings.  In lieu of this, special care should be taken when posting and it should be discussed this with a lawyer.  The victim may also want their friends to avoid talking about them online or posting photographs of them, again to avoid misunderstandings.

Postings on Twitter and Facebook may be discoverable during a lawsuit.  While their may be an urge to delete the account to keep information private, doing so could be misinterpreted as showing the claimant had something to hide.  Instead, the victim should work with their lawyer to minimize who sees what.

It may be helpful if the victim shares the contents of social media accounts with their lawyer.  As set forth here: https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467/ one can download an entire Facebook account.  There are also third-party programs to back up Twitter and other social media accounts.

If you are injured, consult with the lawyers at the CT Injury Law Center about how to manage your social media presence.

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