Why Auto Accident Lawsuit Plantiffs Should Deactivate Their Facebook Accounts
What insurance defense lawyers and insurance adjusters are looking forGood insurance defense lawyers look for wedge issues. They like taking surveillance of bumper stickers on your car or snippets of your answering machine. They know that chances are, those things may offend SOMEONE on your jury. And ultimately, good defense lawyers know that the real reason that juries give injured victims money is because they like that person, and they want to help them.
We live in a world today where many people are already so suspicious or even resentful toward anyone who is filing a civil lawsuit - no matter how deserving of compensation that case may be.
It is an insurance company's job is to do things to lessen the damages they have to pay you for the harms they have caused. They will mine your Facebook account and try to find things that they can later use to hurt your case. You can now expect claims adjusters and defense insurance lawyers to look into your social media use in every single case.
Insurance Company TacticsPosting photographs and videos are almost always a bad idea. And personal feelings you have about the person who smacked into you with his car and caused your injuries is a really bad idea.
A quick trigger finger hitting post can really come back to haunt you. If you choose not to temporarily deactivate your accounts, we warn you to use great caution. Whatever you write or post will probably fall into the hands of the defense attorney or insurance company.
It is now standard practice for insurance companies to run computer searches and investigations to obtain information about your personal life. They can and will obtain it without your knowledge and your permission. Increasingly, they will demand that you provide them with your account passwords. They can and will also ask the court to order release of your password information and even your personal emails.
What not to post on FacebookIf you choose not to temporarily deactivate your social network accounts, at least follow these specific recommendations:
Do not allow anyone to become a "friend" on a website like Facebook unless you are absolutely sure you know that person. Do not post any photographs or video of yourself (or enable others to "tag" you). Do not write or disclose anything about your personal life that your mother would be embarrassed to have a defense attorney use against you in front of a judge. Do not send e-mails regarding your case to anyone except your own attorney. Do not send texts regarding your case to anyone except your attorney. Do not participate in blogs, chat-rooms or message boards. Finally, do not respond to baiting.
How electronic surveillance gets taken out of contextI've seen electronic surveillance go from every once in a while to standard practice on nearly all of my cases in the past two years. There is a whole protocol now for insurance companies, investigators, and defense attorneys to follow regarding these social media sites in every personal injury case.
They hope to discover information to embarrass, humiliate or hurt you. They will look for pictures or comments by you or your friends that they can take out of context to prove that your injury is exaggerated or false.
Both myself and the other accident lawyers have seen innocent, harmless joking between private "friends," used and distorted by insurance companies to try to convince a judge and jury that a plaintiff is not as hurt as he or she truly is. And as I said before, they love to use old pictures or pictures out of context to say you are being dishonest.
Court orders for computer information, hard drives, cell phone records and FacebookBe aware that the insurance companies may ask the court to order release of all information contained within your home computers and laptop hard drives regarding the issues we have discussed above. We have seen insurance companies subpoena cell phone records to obtain transcripts from texting. We have seen them subpoena Facebook and other social networking sites.
I recognize that asking you to limit your social networking is a great inconvenience. But your case is very important, and if you are seriously injured, you need to understand that your case will be aggressively defended. You only have one chance under our law to recover fair compensation.