What NOT to Do after an Auto Accident
At Naqvi, our Las Vegas car accident lawyers are shocked to find many victims posting information on social media that is readily available to other people, including insurance adjusters. We strongly encourage our clients to immediately halt all social media activity and instead reach out to one of our car accident lawyers for more information.
Social Media Posts Are Evidence
We get it. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are convenient ways to keep in contact with friends and family who might live far from you. They also provide a readily available platform to comment on politics, sports, and pop culture.
Unfortunately, anything you post on a social media site could get introduced into a trial. Remember how lawyers are always telling people to not admit fault at the scene of a car crash? There’s a simple reason for that. If you say, “I’m sorry I hit you,” then the defendant’s attorney can have the other driver testify as to what you said. And your words make you look responsible.
Likewise, an attorney can submit as evidence any post, Tweet, comment, or video that you produce if it is relevant to a claim. And don’t think an insurance company won’t do that.
Setting an Account to Private Isn’t Enough
All social media platforms have privacy options. For example, you can set Tweets to private so that only people who follow you can see them. Facebook and Instagram have similar features.
After a car wreck, you might think that turning on privacy settings is enough. Wrong! The reality is that a dogged insurance adjuster or attorney can still find your information. How?
- You might be friends with someone that the adjuster knows. They can access your account that way.
- They might send you a friend request which you accept, opening up your entire posting history for review.
- Some posts are cached by search engines and are available with a little digging.
- An attorney can request a full review of your entire social media history using discovery techniques in litigation. If you refuse to comply, a court will sanction you.
So clicking the “Make Tweets Private” button isn’t enough to protect you. Of course, you should still do it. Don’t make things too easy for anyone. But you should commit to taking other steps to protect your privacy.
What You Post Can Hurt Your Case
Let’s drill down and take a close look at how insurance companies will use social media evidence. You might be surprised at how much information you reveal without even really knowing it. In our experience, insurance companies and defense attorneys look for the following:
An admission of fault. You might publish a post on Facebook where you try to explain that you were in a car accident. Of course, you could be drugged up on painkillers when you post it and not really know what you are saying. But an insurance adjuster will scour your posts for any admission of fault, and you might be surprised at what qualifies. For example, something as innocent as “I wasn’t even looking in that direction!” could be used to show you were driving distracted and are partly at fault.
Proof you aren’t seriously injured. If an insurance company cannot blame you for the accident, they will go to step two: minimizing your injuries. This helps lower the amount of money they need to pay. Your social media profiles could provide a treasure trove of information that you are not really injured. Pictures of you hanging out with friends or family, going to a sister’s wedding, etc. can all come into evidence. Some social media sites will provide updates of your location, even if you don’t post anything. An eagle-eyed insurance adjuster might note you are visiting a different state after an accident and use that information.
Evidence you are not suffering emotional distress. As part of a claim, we can seek compensation for emotional distress stemming from the wreck. But pictures of you smiling or hanging with friends could be used to show your alleged distress is overblown. Even posting too much, regardless of the content, could be used to show you really were fine after the wreck.
Proof you aren’t following your doctor’s orders. Every accident victim has a duty to “mitigate” their damages. Basically, this means you are obligated not to make things worse. Following your doctor’s orders is a basic obligation of accident victims to speed up recovery and limit pain. If your doctor tells you to stay in bed but you post pictures that are clearly taken outdoors, then this looks bad.
Should You Post on Social Media At All?
Above, we mentioned that you should, at a minimum, set accounts to private. That step is not sufficient, by itself, to protect you. But it is a necessary first step to taking control of the situation and not hamstringing your case.
What else should you do? Follow these steps to make it harder for an insurance company to deny you the compensation you deserve:
- Refuse to accept new friend requests. You really don’t know who these people are claiming to be.
- Avoid posting new content. It is perfectly fine to leave your social media accounts in hibernation until you settle your claim. This could take up to a year.
- Use the phone. If you want to talk to friends or family about how you are feeling, do it the old fashion way by telephone. This leaves no evidence for a lawyer to find.
- Watch out for photo tags. Someone might post a picture to their account and then tag you. This makes it easier to find. Remove all tags.
- Ask friends and family not to post information about you following the accident. Explain that inaccurate information can get out and cause you headaches. Most people will understand.
- Avoid liking or commenting on friends’ posts as well. This shows you are feeling well enough to be on the computer.
We realize that social media is how people communicate, but the risk is too high. Go dark—at least until your claim is resolved.
Will Insurers REALLY Comb Through My Social Media?
Yes! We wish we were exaggerating the threat, but we are not. There are many media reports about insurers seeking information on social media accounts, which you can check for yourself. Claims Journal, an insurance industry publication, has even published a story telling adjusters how to investigate social media to find insurance fraud.
As experienced car accident lawyers in Las Vegas, we have seen up close insurers try to access and then use social media information. This tactic will only increase in the future, so we are warning our clients today.
Can You Use the Other Driver’s Social Media to My Advantage?
Bingo! Yes, we can and will. Turnabout is fair play. Some drivers admit they caused accidents on social media. “Hey, you’ll never believe I just slammed into someone in the parking lot!” Others will admit their car is a rust bucket that they never take to the mechanic, which is proof it’s probably dangerous.
People overshare all the time. Our attorneys know our way around Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, VSCO, and many other social media sites.
Contact Naqvi Today
To maximize the amount of compensation you receive, there is only one law firm to call. Naqvi has helped many clients get top dollar for their injuries. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.