SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES FOLLOWING A UTAH ACCIDENT
After you have been involved in a Utah accident, you need to very careful regarding your social media habits. If you belong to any social media sites, including, among others, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, or LinkedIn, please keep in mind that whatever you post is not private and may be used by the defendants to fight your claim.
Please remember that whatever you write or post, or have written or posted, can fall into the hands of the defendant, its insurance company, and its attorneys. They will use your social media posts to unfairly attack the validity of your claim. Indeed, it is now standard practice for defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys to obtain information from social media sites. Generally, they obtain this information without your knowledge or permission.
As such, if you belong to any social media sites, you should immediately verify that all your settings are on private (the highest setting possible) and that nothing is public. Even with the highest privacy settings in place, you should post to social media assuming that the posts are public and that the defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys will eventually gain access to your social media posts.
AFTER A UTAH ACCIDENT, TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS TO PROTECT YOUR CASE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA SURVEILLANCE
We urge you to do the following:
- Apply the highest privacy settings.
- After an accident, be very selective about who you “friend” or link with. Do not allow anyone to become a “friend” an account unless you are absolutely sure you know that person.
- Refrain from using social media sites as much as possible while your case is pending.
- Do not post anything about your case. In addition, do not answer questions about the facts of your accident or case or about how you are feeling.
- Do not post anything about meetings with your lawyers or staff members. This can result in a challenge to the attorney-client privilege.
- Be very discrete about any photos that you post: In our experience an injured client may “pose” for a picture that depicts the client participating in an activity in which they are not actually participating. It is very difficult to explain that the photo was “posed” and that the client was not actually participating in the activity. Photographs showing physical activity inconsistent with your claims can be very damaging to your case. What seems perfectly harmless may be used against you. Do not post photos that show drinking or other activities that defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys may try to use to paint you in an unfavorable light to a jury.
- Think carefully about what you post and how it might look to third-parties involved in your case. We have found that clients have made a post that does not actually reflect what they are doing, but rather what they believe sounds good. This “posed” posting can be very damaging to your claim. Do not post anything about your social life that involves drinking or other activities that the defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys may use to paint you in an unfavorable light to a jury. If you are making an injury claim, a social media post stating that you are participating in a physical activity that is inconsistent with your claim can result in irreparable harm to your claim.
- Do not send any e-mails regarding your case to anyone except your attorneys. There is no “unsend” button. It is very important that you do not send e-mails to friends or family about your condition or activities. E-mails often contain emotional content that you may find difficult to explain or may be inconsistent with your recollection if you are deposed later in the case. Additionally, the defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys may attempt to subpoena the e-mails from your friends or family members. If it is absolutely necessary for you to communicate with a friend or family member keep the communications to what is essential and generally try to communicate verbally. The people you communicate with could be subpoenaed to testify about your communications.
- Do not forward any e-mails from your attorney’s office to anyone else. Forwarding attorney (or staff) e-mails or otherwise sharing attorney (or staff) communications of any kind can result in waiver of the attorney-client privilege.
- Do not visit insurance websites, participate in blogs, chatrooms, or message boards. We have seen an increase in electronic surveillance by defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys for purposes of embarrassing and humiliating claimants and for the purpose of claiming that your injury was exaggerated or even caused by something other than the accident.
- Be aware that the defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys may be entitled to request all information contained within your home computers, laptops, smart phones, and hard drives regarding the above-referenced issues. The defendants, insurance companies and their attorneys may also be entitled to subpoena information directly from internet service providers.
If you have been involved in a Utah accident, and have questions regarding social media usage post-accident, call or text Gosdis Law at 385-429-9960. We are Utah’s best law firm for protecting clients against insurance company tactics and surveillance.