Social Media plays a huge part in our everyday lives. Whether its Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it seems like everyone is using some sort of social media to connect with friends, family members, colleagues, customers, etc. Although it’s a fun and helpful way to stay in touch with people, these tools can cause significant issues if you have a personal injury claim.
During your lawsuit, there is a period of time set aside for discovery. This is where the parties attempt to gather as much information about you and your claim as possible. Often times, insurance companies will hire private investigators to conduct surveillance on you while your lawsuit is pending. Typically, this includes following you and taking videos and photographs but in recent years it has grown to include internet searches for social media accounts and profiles.
What makes social media so problematic for personal injury claimants is that there is often no way to actually date material that is posted on social media accounts. For instance, a person who has suffered a back injury and has been disabled from working may post a picture of themselves engaging in some sort of physical activity. Even though the photo may have been taken years before the injury occurred, it could appear to have been taken recently. Such a photo could be used as evidence by the insurance company which may be alleging that the claim is fraudulent.
Whether or not such evidence is admissible during trial hasn’t been definitively determined in Michigan. However, there are a few unpublished cases which indicate that it is. In any event, trying to prove that a photo taken years ago doesn’t accurately describe a claimant’s current physical condition isn’t an easy task and can have a profound effect on your claim.
The absolute best way to prevent social media from interfering with your personal injury claim is to deactivate your account right away. Simply taking a break from posting while your claim is pending won’t necessarily eliminate the risk because others in your social media network can still post videos and photos of you that can be linked to your account. It’s also important to understand that deleting items that may create issues won’t eliminate the risk either as some social media websites have comprehensive histories of everything a member has posted, even if it has been deleted. Setting your profile to private may also proof unhelpful as it doesn’t prevent a defense attorney from subpoenaing a member’s account information directly from the social media provider.
Don’t let something as benign as a Facebook post negatively impact your ability to obtain the benefits you’re entitled to. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz can help you navigate through these and the variety of other issues that can come up during a personal injury suit. Contact us today at 248-557-3645 for more information about your rights.