Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

Social Media and Your Personal Injury Case

Posted Monday, August 15, 2011 by Chris Thayer

An increasing number of people, young and old, have a Facebook page these days, or spend time on Twitter. Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way that many people interact, share information and communicate. Whenever I meet with a new personal injury client, one of the first things we discuss is how to deal with such so-called “social media” and the impacts that it can have on your personal injury claim. Keep in mind that the most important advice is also the most obvious: be honest.

As my first blog entry on this site, I thought I would summarize the advice that I give all of my personal injury clients on this issue.

  1. Adjust all privacy settings. Adust all privacy settings on all social networks such that no information is shared with the general public.

  2. Not everyone on your “friend” list on Facebook is necessarily your friend. It is common for people to accept a “friend request” on Facebook from people that they barely know. Old high school or college classmates or people that you just met briefly at a social engagement. You may not know what these people do for a living or how they really feel about you. Many of them would not be considered your real friend by any previous standard definition of the word. Some of them may work for insurance companies, or be friends with someone who does. Some of them may hold a grudge against you, even though they are your “friend” on Facebook or other social networking site. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you do need to be mindful and cautious.

  3. Consider deleting old blog posts and status updates. Especially with younger generations, personal information is posted on social media sites without much thought as to who might see it or review it. To the extent any of this information is acessible to the public, it is possible that it will be used against you by the insurance company. Keep in mind that insurance companies may scrutinize this information and view it from a different perspective. A Twitter post that is intended as a joke or a sarcastic comment about some current event or political issue, might be used by the insurance company to attack your credibility or character. Remember, insurance companies will want to pay you as little as possible for your claim - and if they can take a Facebook post, comment or Blog entry out of context, they will.

  4. A photograph really does tell a thousand words. People post photographs on their Facebook profile frequently. As a way to stay in touch and share a part of their lives, it has created a new form of socializing and sharing information with our “friends”. Your Facebook friends can also “tag” you in a photo. Keep in mind that a picture of you smiling and having a good time at a barbeque will be seen from an entirely different perspective by the insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster is trying to minimize the amount the insurance company is going to pay on your claim. It is wise to monitor the photos of you that are posted on Facebook or other social media sites. This is not about hiding information, it is about preventing an insurance adjuster from taking an isolated photo of you out of context.

  5. If a lawsuit is filed, everything you write or have written and posted on the internet may end up being disclosed to the insurance company. Blog entries, Twitter posts, Facebook status updates and other comments, once posted on the internet, may end up being reviewed by an insurance adjuster - no matter what your privacy settings are. Once a lawsuit is filed on your personal injury claim, it is becoming increasingly common for insurance companies to seek court orders compelling production of online social medial information.

  6. Tone and humor can be misconstrued. The informal tone frequently used on Facebook posts or Twitter “tweets” is not the same language you would use if you were having your deposition taken or being interviewed by an insurance adjuster. As such, it is easy for such comments to be taken out of context or misinterpreted. You can be certain that the insurance companies will be trying to access as much information on you that they can find on the internet - in an effort to minimize the amount paid on your personal injury claim.

If you have a serious personal injury claim, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss these issues in more detail and to discuss how to minimize the risks. It is important that you consult with an attorney early on in the process so that you can learn how to protect your rights and fight back.