Impact of Social Media on Pending Claims

Most of you probably use a public social networking site, e.g. FaceBook, Twitter, Linked-In, Instagram, Vine, etc. You may not be aware that whatever you write, post or tag, or whatever you may have written, posted, or tagged in the past on social media may be accessible to the public and may be inadvertently harmful to your case. Your posts may be misconstrued or misinterpreted, and if your case proceeds to trial, may end up on a big screen in the courtroom for everyone to see during a trial.

You should check your privacy settings and make sure they are most restrictive, i.e. ‘friends only’ for Facebook settings. Many people do not realize that their privacy settings may be “public”, which lets any member of the public, even complete strangers, access to your account.  You should not accept ‘friend’ requests unless you personally know who they are from.

It is now common for insurance carriers to attempt to obtain information about your personal life. This is often done without your knowledge or permission. Once your claim is in litigation, the defense will likely make a request to access your social media accounts. The courts are not in agreement about whether this is a legitimate request. So it is preferable to take action now about what you post, or entirely suspend social media activity during the pendency of your case. However you should NOT delete or remove information from your social media, as that could be considered destruction of evidence, spoliation of evidence, or obstruction of justice.

It is likely you may consider that total suspension of your social media activity is not a practicable option. If that is the case, we recommend that you do not discuss your claim on social media or post any photos of yourself or let yourself be photographed for others to post.  Likewise you should disable ‘tagging’ of photos and you should not participate in any blogs, chat-rooms, discussion boards, or message boards. The same applies to texting.

So we urge you to think carefully before posting, tweeting, and commenting. If in doubt, err on the side of caution: