(WATCH: Have you been involved in a crash? A local personal injury lawyer is warning drivers not to post details about it on social media. Emily Mertz explains.)
EDMONTON – These days, many people share just about every life event on a social networking site — or a few of them. However, a personal injury lawyer is warning people to resist the urge to share after being involved in a collision.
“The internet now — we like to say — is a private investigator that never sleeps,” explained Cynthia Carels, a lawyer with Miller Thomson.
On Saturday, Edmonton police responded to 231 collisions, seven of which involved an injury.
That same day, Carels noticed five different posts on Facebook from her friends sharing information about a crash they were in.
“Notoriously, when people are in what they might think is a minor fender bender, or something like that, they might put something up online that says, ‘look what happened to me today. Thank goodness no one was hurt’ or they start to make some characterizations of how badly people were hurt in the accident and being quite grateful that it wasn’t worse than it was or they may actually have experienced something quite catastrophic and again making some qualifications as to what the nature of the injuries were,” Carels said.
“From our experience as personal injury lawyers, those kinds of statements from very early on can quite often come to bite people later on in litigation.”
“You don’t know exactly in those first few hours, or first few days, what your injury is going to materialize to be in the long run,” she added. “So it’s really important to just stay off of social media.”
If a claim is made, the insurance company’s adjuster or legal counsel could start collecting information about the complainant and the claim. Insurance companies can hire private investigators to gather evidence, but they can also search social media posts.
“Unless you have your privacy settings set very, very high, things that people are tagging you in, pictures that they’re taking of you, all of those things can show up on your Google search or on Facebook or on Instagram or Twitter, so the insurance company can see all of the activities that you are or aren’t doing,” Carels explained.
Even strong privacy settings may not be enough.
“If you’re asked at questionings whether you posted anything on your profile about your accident, and you say ‘yeah I did,’ that can open up a foothold for an insurance company to ask a court to have your entire social media profile disclosed in the litigation,” said Carels.
In her own Facebook warning, Carels shared a link to another legal blog about the issue.
How value of personal injury claims are assessed:
– awarded for pain, suffering, worry and inconvenience that arise from injuries
Loss of earning capacity
– compensation for the time that you miss from work due to injury
Loss of ability to perform household services
– compensation for the hours of work you would have ordinarily performed at home, taking care of you and your family
– reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses that arise from the crash
– all of the above assessments assume the other party is found solely liable for the crash
– make sure to keep the name and contact information of any witnesses
Section ‘B’ benefits
– benefits available to you through your own insurance company on a no-fault basis
– any compensation you get from your own insurance company will be deducted from your overall claim against the other party
Verification and reporting
– information about you and your claim
– could be gathered by defendant’s adjuster or legal counsel through video evidence or social media posts
– proof of the extent of injuries and how they impacted your life