Before the Internet, insurance companies, attorneys, law enforcement, collection agencies and other individuals responsible for investigating information had to work a lot harder to check out individuals. Today, people volunteer much of the information such investigators are searching for.
The rise of social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and other online communities have encouraged people to post anything and everything about themselves. Friends and acquaintances are not the only people taking notice. It has also become a crucial tool used by insurance companies, and other organizations, to gather evidence and seemingly innocuous posts on popular websites can damage an otherwise great personal injury claim.
Attorneys use social networking websites to verify what the opposing party is doing. If someone gets into an accident and claims to have an injury while submitting documentation that he or she cannot work, an investigator can easily go look up the person’s Facebook page. If the person’s Facebook page displays pictures of them dancing or rock-climbing or doing something that contradicts what was told to the insurance company, that person has just sabotaged their case.
Being tagged in a photograph by a friend who does not have privacy settings on a Facebook page can also spell trouble. If a supposedly injured person is seen doing something they claim not to be able to do, it can be used as evidence to deny a settlement offer or dismiss a court case seeking money for injuries. While this post should not be read as encouraging deception, injured parties should be aware that anything posted online is not 100% private.
It is recommended that you take down or deactivate all individual social networking pages while a claim is being pursued. If you’re not prepared to take the big step of deactivating your accounts, there are other precautions that can be taken short of that.
1. Immediately make your profile “private,” and set all privacy settings to the highest level.
2. Remember to not discuss your accident, injuries or treatment, including any prescribed medication, on ANY social networking sites.
3. Avoid discussing recent activities you’ve engaged in, physical exertion, abilities and limitations, or any other information that may bear on what you can and cannot do because of your injuries. It’s important to avoid this even if you’re not directly talking about activities related to your lawsuit.
4. Remove all photographs and videos of you taken since your injury, and refrain from posting until your claim has been resolved.
5. Be sure you know everyone who is your “friend.” Do not accept friend requests from people you do not personally know.
6. Review your friend list and block anyone you are not 100% sure you trust. Opposing parties could pose as a friend or get information from others who are to gain access to potentially incriminating information that could negatively affect your lawsuit.
If you, or someone you know, have any questions regarding personal injury claims, please feel free to contact the experienced Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation. Call at 704-370-2828.
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