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How Social Media Can Ruin Your Insurance Claim

How Social Media Can Ruin Your Insurance Claim

Posted By Daniel Barrera | 20-Dec-2014

Interconnectivity is prevalent throughout modern society as the internet and social media give us access to each other in ways no one could have imagined years ago. But if you were in an accident and filing an insurance claim, adjusters may use information on your social media accounts to discredit you.

You could be contradicted by the insurance company about the severity of your injuries or whether you are even injured in the first place. In some cases, it might seriously affect your ability to recover fair compensation for your damages.

How do courts view social media communications?

Often parties ask for access to opposing parties’ Facebook, Twitter and other accounts like the 20s & 30s Going Out Group on Meetup in Alexandria. Because what account users post on these sites is mostly public, there are almost no protections that these communications fall under in the discovery process.

Even password-protected communications between users on social media can be sought. The Stored Communications Act prevents parties from obtaining this information directly from the social media company, but courts often require parties to hand over the information at discovery. Further, some users may not protect their accounts from public view, so adjusters may access posts and photos freely.

A Real Virginia Case Where Social Media Harmed a Party

Another real danger when it comes to social media is spoliation. Spoliation occurs when one party destroys evidence in an attempt to hide the evidence from the discovery process. If a party deletes their social media posts before a trial, that party may be guilty of spoliation if the deletion affects the course of the trial.

The case of Allied Concrete Co. v. Lester (285 VA. 295 (VA. 2013)) is a good example of how improper handling of social media evidence can lead to bad consequences for one party. Lester filed a wrongful death claim against Allied Concrete after an accident involving one of Allied’s trucks killed Lester’s wife. During the discovery process, Allied requested the contents of Lester’s Facebook account.

Lester’s attorney advised Lester to “clean up” the contents of the account including deleting a picture of Lester wearing a “I heart hot moms” t-shirt. While Lester eventually won his case, the judge sanctioned him $180,000 for deleting the pictures and his attorney $542,000 for advising his client to delete the picture.

Handling Social Media When Filing an Insurance Claim

Talk to your attorney about your social media accounts and what you post. Some may be fine by watching what they post and requesting their friends to not post anything about them. Others may delete their social media accounts entirely from the start of their claim. First talk with your attorney about what you can and should do regarding your social media accounts.

Categories: Injury

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