How Can Social Networking Affect Personal Injury Cases in Massachusetts?
We represent victims of personal injury in Massachusetts. In most cases the insurance company for the defendant will undertake an investigation of Massachusetts accidents. If it is a small case, with a claimant unknown to the insurance world (someone who has not filed many claims) they may not put much effort into their investigation. However, what if it is a large claim? What if it is contested? Can they use social media to investigate victims?
Insurance companies and their attorneys have vast resources. And they don’t hesitate to use them. In a personal injury lawsuit, they have the right to have the victim examined by their insurance doctors. They have the right to ask written questions and to have their insurance trial attorney require oral testimony by deposition, from “day to day” to have their questions answers. They can send an investigator to video you going in and out of your house, at the mall, and going to work. And they do all of these things regularly.
With all of the above, you have some control as to how you present. You prepare for your deposition with your experienced Massachusetts injury attorney. You bring your medical records to the insurance doctor for his or her review in conjunction with your exam. You learn that the insurance investigators may be videoing you so you act accordingly. How do you know how to act with respect to social media?
Social media poses a new, albeit similar situation to the above. You need to be aware that the insurance adjusters, investigators and attorneys will look around. How can you respond? First, consider that whatever you post on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn can and will be monitored by the defense. If you post something, or are tagged, it is likely to be discovered. Second, using Google, what can one find about you? Your website, YouTube videos and any other hits, will be discovered.
What can you do? You can take down or deactivate accounts. You can refrain from posting on your accounts while you are injured and recovering. Do not post photographs or videos. You can adjust privacy settings to the highest levels. You should not discuss your accident, medical condition, medical treatment, and recovery on any public media. Further, be sure that your friends and family are not providing information about you on social media. You should not discuss medication publically. You should not mention your activities, or lack of activities, as activity level is especially monitored as a function of how much better you are at various points of time. You should never accept friend requests from folks you do not know.
Don’t think that you can outsmart the insurance defense attorneys by strategically posting. If you post an accurate picture of yourself in the hospital, or sitting gloomily whilst recovering from your injuries, there may be comments by friends. You may be asked about those friends in a deposition; and they may become witnesses. Why give all of that information to someone whose sole job is to discredit you and find holes in your case?
I have been litigating personal injury and motor vehicle injury cases in Massachusetts since 1985. As a Boston injury attorney, I have learned that the only way to effectively counteract the insurance company approach is to be aggressive in preparation. Call us at 617227-7423 anytime to discuss your case.