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Remember, nothing you do online is truly private, so always be mindful when you post.
These days, many of us are in one way or another involved in social media — through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the host of other social media platforms that are out there. Social media can be a fun way to keep up with friends, to stay informed, and to be entertained. What we might not think about, though, while we are scrolling and posting and sharing is that our online activity isn’t just ours — it’s potential evidence in a personal injury lawsuit.
Say, for example, you are in a bad car accident that has caused a traumatic brain injury. As you are recovering you may have an afternoon when you feel well enough to visit a local park to sit on a bench and enjoy the fresh air. If you decide to “check in” on social media, that information could potentially be used in an attempt to demonstrate that your injury is not as bad as you say it is: after all, if you are well enough to visit a park you must be healthy and strong, right? This is just one small example of how a seemingly innocent post on social media could lead to doubt being cast on the validity of your personal injury claim.
One of the first things that insurance claims adjusters, defense attorneys, and their investigators do when investigating a claim for personal injury is to check out the social media profiles of the injured person. From their perspective, if they’re lucky, they might just find a post relating to the incident in which the person was injured; perhaps even indicating that the injured person played a part in causing their own injury. Such a post could be devastating, if not fatal, to a personal injury claim in Virginia because of Virginia’s law of contributory negligence.
It goes without saying that the purpose of any personal injury claim is to find justice for someone who has been badly injured through the negligence of others. It is never okay to try to game the system with a false or exaggerated claim of injury. But as with the example above, you can see how even with a legitimate injury there is the possibility that an innocent social media post could be used to potentially cast doubt on the seriousness of your claim.
A good rule of thumb whenever you are online is to never post or write anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing publicly and openly. Remember that the footprint we leave online isn’t a private one. Messages you send, photos you post, comments you make — all of these things could potentially be accessed and used against you during a personal injury case. Additionally, it is always prudent to make sure your settings are set to “private” so that generally only friends and a limited set of their contacts can see what you post. A social media profile that is open to the public is an invitation to anyone – including the insurance company – to check out your life.
All of us at Burnett & Williams want you to be safe and healthy, both online and in the real world! If you or anyone you know and love has been injured in an accident, we would be happy to talk with you. Give us a call at 1-800-969-1650, or send us an email.