Insurance companies have a new friend on their side – the social networking system! Now more than ever, insurance adjusters are researching plaintiffs on the internet. Go ahead and type your name in the Google search box and see what happens. Not only that, there are other websites that keep basic data about people including where they live, real estate they own, and much more. All they have to do is type your name and search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.
If you are claiming personal injury from an accident or other event, you can’t be seen running a marathon the next day or participating in a gymnastics competition a few days later. Don’t go skiing in Lake Tahoe that week! If you claim you injured your back, don’t be caught the next week playing a game of basketball with your friends. If you are injured in an auto accident, you have to act injured. If your actions are not consistent with your claim, it can come back to haunt you.
The insurance companies are getting savvy. They know that some people post their every move on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites. Heck, I use Facebook to promote my law practice and keep in touch with family and friends, but some folks literally post everything they do (from having breakfast to going to the bank) on these websites. While we can debate the merits of doing so, the insurance companies really love it. Postings, photos, videos…it’s all there for them to see. All they have to do is search for your name, and many times, they can find you doing exactly what you shouldn’t be doing!
Keep in mind, in this day and age, you don’t have total control over what gets posted. You may not be the one to post a video of yourself but a friend of yours might do so. You could be “tagged” in a photo on Facebook that ruins your whole case. Therefore, it’s not just your actions that matter. Don’t put yourself in a situation that could compromise your case. Plus, if you are truly injured, you should be taking it easy anyway.
When I worked for a major insurance company as a defense lawyer, there were many times when we sensed the individual claiming injury was either simply lying through their teeth, or at the very least, greatly exaggerating the claim. In some cases, plaintiffs would “bootstrap” all their prior ailments to an accident.
Check your bank account – the insurance companies have more money than you. They will hire investigators to follow you around and take video of you carrying heavy groceries, playing at the park with your kids, and playing a game of pick-up basketball with your friends on the weekend. Therefore, it doesn’t even have to be the social networks….they will find you acting inconsistently with your claimed injury and they will show that footage on a big-screen TV for a jury. The jury WILL hold it against you.
If you are trying to take advantage of the system, then shame on you. The system is designed to protect people….not to make a quick buck. Therefore, don’t compromise your perfectly decent injury case by acting inconsistently with your injury. Remember…these days, everyone is watching.
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by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,