Social Media, Personal Injury Clients and the Law

If you were watching the news in the last few weeks, you might have heard that people looking for work are now being asked by some corporate employers for their social media password, as a condition of employment!

The corporate mindset is, if you want to work at our office, we want to see what kind of stupid stuff you’ve been posting in the privacy of your Facebook page. You thought the photos of that drunken night out downing shots of tequila while your mate was passed out under the table was safe because your privacy setting is high? Think again……

We all know young adults shield dear old Mom and Dad from the vagaries of youthful indiscretions by “upping” the privacy option on their Facebook page to block out all but the most intimate 847 friends, but this is no longer sufficient for some employers. If your privacy setting is low and the immediate world can view what you’ve posted, they’re not nearly as interested as if you’ve blocked 99.9% of the world out. That’s the material they want to see. The post of your fascination for homemade explosives? Now that’s the stuff of interest! And don’t dry clean that suit just yet.

As states continue to review this employer created problem, there may be laws drafted and passed to protect the privacy rights of consumers for internet created social media sites. At least a number of nervous job applicants hope so.

However, on a somewhat related topic, for all my personal injury clients who have no privacy filter on their Facebook homepage, watch out!  There are dangers lurking.

When I sign up a new personal injury client, I always ask if they have a presence on Facebook.  I monitor Facebook regularly and I cannot tell you how often a personal injury client of mine who is presenting a claim to an insurance company and is obviously in some degree of pain will write on Facebook: “Wow! Went to Busch Gardens and rode Kumba the rollercoaster SIX TIMES!!”

Or, “I hate moving. I think I lugged 100 boxes today.”  Or, posting photos of yourself shushing down the side of mountain on a snowboard.

Well, guess who else is reading Facebook? That’s right, insurance adjusters. The very ones who will monitor the sincerity of your personal injury claim. They may not have your password and will never get it, but if your privacy setting is low, it’s out there for anyone’s eyes to see.

While we do encourage our personal injury clients to live life to the fullest even as you recuperate from your injury, any social media posted activity or photograph that may contradict your claim for disabilities just simply isn’t advisable. Going to the gym to help rehabilitation with a low impact eliptical? Good idea, absolutely. Lifting weights? No, bad idea.  Going to the beach for some “sun therapy” and posting photos? Sure.  Renting a wave runner to zoom across the Gulf? Bad idea for your injury and your claim.

It is human nature to push yourself after an injury to get back to a “normal” life. But, folks, use common sense. You may hurt after a roller coaster ride and decide not to do it again. Maybe forever. But for now that image of you on Kumba lives on in the mind of your insurance adjuster.  If in doubt, just post photos of your pets which always pleases everyone.

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