You have Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. You have posted video about yourself to YouTube. You are hip, happenin’, and connected. Then you are involved in an automobile accident or an on-the-job injury. Should you be concerned about who can see what you are posting? The answer is absolutely yes.
Attorneys, insurance adjusters, and claims managers today are savvy about the Internet and social media. Unless you know all about privacy settings on Facebook, more people than you may know or want are accessing information about you. They can see your pictures and your posts and also posts and pictures from your friends or family.
The old saying is “a picture is worth a thousand words.” You tell your doctor that you have trouble doing certain activities because of your injury. Those restrictions are relayed to your claims manager or the insurance adjuster for the other side. If your Facebook posts, Tweets, or YouTube videos contradict what you tell your doctor, you lose credibility and your case is damaged.
Claims managers and attorneys are becoming more persistent in requesting access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Their goal is to discredit you with your doctors and with judges or jurors if your case goes to litigation. Requests for information have included complete printouts of all social media posts and pictures for several years. The courts are still sorting through these broad requests for information. If the courts rule against you and you have to produce that information, anything you may have written and posted will be available to attorneys for the other side and then to the court or jurors who will be asked to rule on your case.
If you are involved in a workers’ compensation claim, applying for Social Security disability, or have a personal injury case under way, you should stop all posts to any social media accounts until your case is resolved. Consider suspending your accounts until your claim is resolved. If you are unwilling to do that, then you should check all of your privacy settings to make sure that only your close friends or family are able to view your posts and pictures. If a friend asks to post something to your timeline, deny the request. Don’t allow any search of your timeline. Never post anything to YouTube. What you may think is an innocent post or video can turn out to be a disaster for your case.
If you have questions about social media and your case, please call our office.
Marilyn McAdoo is a worker’s compensation paralegal and the firm’s Administrator. She has been with The Walthew Law Firm since 1979.