We definitely are not in the same place we were 10 years ago. Do you remember when you could do just about anything and there wasn’t any record of it all over the internet? How many of us would be in big trouble if half of our shenanigans back in high school would have been posted on a social media outlet such as Facebook or Instagram? Well, even though you might be “all grown up” it does not mean you should not be concerned about your own internet presence.
When you are injured in a slip and fall, on the job incident, motor vehicle accident or any of the other number of ways to get hurt, our first instinct is to let our friends, families and co-workers know about what happened. I cannot tell you how many times I learned about someone’s injuries not from their own mouth, but through their own social media posts or posts by their family. What you might think is innocent might have a negative effect on your case.
For instance, I had a client who was in an accident a while back and sustained some pretty nasty injuries. He was legitimately injured and the at fault party had insurance. What my client did not realize was that the insurance company and defense attorneys were trolling his personal social media accounts. A friend posted on a totally different subject and in the comments below responded to my client’s comment with a “how are you after your accident?” comment. My client replied, “I’m fine” and in further posts said he was “feeling much better”. Mind you, the insurance company had a field day with these comments despite the fact that he was actually in a lot of pain and seriously injured. He was a tough man and complaining about his injuries on a public forum was not an option for him. His comments were generic and just a response to someone asking, but they were used against him and definitely had a negative effect on the settlement in his case.
I had another case where my client had been involved in a serious accident and sustained some significant injuries to his neck and back. He was under the care of numerous physicians and we were working on a settlement with the defendants. He was unable to lift anything heavy and was instructed to maintain a sedentary lifestyle while he was in recovery. During this time of negotiating with the other side, his grandchildren came to town to visit, grandchildren he had not seen in over a year. His daughter and her 4-year-old grandson were overjoyed to see their grandpa and in that moment of joy, he scooped up his grandson and hugged him. His daughter snapped a photo of the precious moment and posted it on Instagram tagging her dad in the photo as well. Wouldn’t you know it, the other side took the photo, blew it up and made a big fuss about the fact he was able to hold a heavy 4 year old even though he had previous told them he was unable to lift anything. Of course, this was used against him in his settlement negotiations.
My best advice is that you still have to live your life during this time of recovery and settlement negotiations. We all have a responsibility to be honest with ourselves and others when it comes to our condition. However, there is no need to do that under the microscope of the defense attorneys and the insurance companies who obviously do not have your best interests at heart. I will tell you what you should do, STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. That includes commenting to posts, sharing or even liking posts and photos, allowing your family members to share photos of you and of course, making any comments about your accident, injuries, treatment, condition, or prognosis. What you may think is totally harmless or inconsequential might be just the think the other side is looking for you make you look untruthful or dishonest. The best way to avoid any problems is just to take a little break from it all. Think of it this way, it gives you a chance to reconnect with your friends and family the “old fashioned” way like picking up a phone or grabbing a coffee in person. You might even find that taking this little break from social media might just be a blessing in disguise!