When a personal injury claim is made against a driver who caused an accident, it is expected that the insurance company for the at fault driver will completely investigate the case, including the nature and extent of the injuries suffered. In particular, the insurance company will be looking for evidence showing that the injured person is not really “injured”. With this evidence in hand, the insurance company can deny any settlement by claim the injured person is either faking or over-stating their alleged injury. Of course, this type of evidence can be very devastating to a case, especially where the injured person is suffering from pain, physical limitations, or permanent disabilities.
For example, it is well-known that many insurance companies have hired investigators to do video surveillance on people who have been injured. If it surfaces that a client was engaging in physical activity that they claimed they were unable to do, it will significantly reduce the damages and destroy the opportunity for a fair settlement or verdict.
More recently, with the proliferation of people posting personal information on Facebook, insurance companies and defense lawyers now have a new way to collect evidence that an injured person is faking or over-stating their personal injury. Not only is Facebook evidence potentially very damaging, but in many instances it is very easy to obtain very personal and private information about the claimant.
In fact, the first thing I would do if I was defending myself against an accident claim, I would search Facebook for the plaintiff to see what they have posted about the accident or their injuries. Next, I would continue to monitor the plaintiff to determine what kinds of physical or social activities they were engaging in.
As a lawyer who concentrates in motor vehicle accident law and litigation, the best advice I can give to accident victims is to discontinue posting anything online about the accident, your medical condition, or your activities. Posts can and will be used against you. We also encourage our clients to set their privacy settings so that only “friends” can see your information, photos, etc.
While this post is mostly about how to protect yourself in an accident claim, we recently had a case where we discovered some Facebook evidence posted by a young girl who caused an accident that hurt our client. This is what her post was shortly after the accident. I have omitted the name of the road to maintain confidentiality.
“You know that sharp corner on ________ road, the one you can’t see around? Well me and another car hit. My truck won. They got towed.”
She goes on to post “I love my truck, it’s kind of a badass lol”