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Dear Miami Personal Injury Lawyer:

Thumbnail image for facebook.jpgI recently was involved in a car accident in South Florida when I was sideswiped in an intersection when a lady in another car blew through a stop light. I think she was on her phone at the time. But I am not sure.

I was thinking of hiring a lawyer to sue her but not sure as I would like to see if I can work this out with her without getting our insurance involved. What are your thoughts?

I found you on Facebook and have given you permission to print my question and answer in your blog as long as you don’t share my name.

Thanks,

“Injured in South Beach.”

 

Dear Injured in South Beach:

I appreciate you consulting with me and allowing me to share our conversation with my blog readers. Essentially, here is how I responded in our Facebook chat:

Your question does not really provide me enough information to give you the best advice; specifically, you failed to tell me if you are injured in any way or have sought medical treatment from the accident. I also don’t know if you have missed time from work or the extent of the damage to your car. It would be important to know your past medical history and claims history, too. There remain a few more questions that a lawyer would need to ask in order to answer your first question, “Do I need a lawyer after a car crash on South Beach?’ That is precisely the point I am trying to make: You need a lawyer to figure out if you need a lawyer.

But while we are on the subject of Facebook, I have some additional advice for you and anyone else who may be considering making a personal injury claim in Florida for a slip and fall at a Publix, car or truck wreck, and even a cruise line case: Change your Facebook settings to private.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09D-8YarUpQ[/youtube]

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide a real-time glimpse for both insurance lawyers, adjusters, and even the judge and jury who might be evaluating the effects your accident has had on you. With Facebook’s ever evolving privacy settings, most people, including you it seems, have no idea how to manage who sees what. In other words, those photos of you at the Miami Heat’s Parade definitely show you having a great time–but they will conflict with a claim for an injury down the road, should you decide to make one. Let me clarify: I am not suggesting you avoid events like the Heat Parade, or change your lifestyle in any way simply to enhance the value of your claim; rather, I am advising that if you are truly hurt and have sustained an injury from the accident, those photos can and will be taken out of context and used to impeach your anticipated testimony by challenging your credibility.

I advise my clients to stop posting on Facebook, whenever we file a lawsuit, but I know from experience that many cannot let go of social networking, so for them I have advised a five-point plan that can limit the damage Facebook can do to a potential personal injury case. The good news is that there are four simple things you can and should do now to enhance your privacy on Facebook:

1. Limit Who Can Find You: I use my Facebook account both for me personally and for my law firm’s business page to attract potential clients–like you. But you should make sure your Facebook profile stays private. Simply click the blue gear button in the top-right corner and select Privacy Settings and select private. This will make it much harder for anyone, especially the insurance adjusters, to find you on Facebook. It will also block search engines like Google and Yahoo from linking to your profile.

2. Stop Public Posting: Limit who can see your stuff to only Friends. Select this setting as your default so that you do not make a post to the public–like your photos at the parade.

3. Audit Friends: I have thousands of friends on Facebook, many of whom I have never met or seen in real life. But again, I use Facebook for marketing my legal services. Check your Friends list and make sure they are, in fact, people you really know and who are your actual friends.

4. Back to the Future: Lock down your timeline while in the privacy settings, scroll down to the list of options and select “Review posts friends tag you in BEFORE they appear on your timeline” to On.

I do not know if Mr. Zuckerberg does this on purpose, but there are multiple additional security settings throughout Facebook that are difficult to find and understand. I assume this is unwittingly to keep people’s content as public as possible–which can be great for Facebook and the insurance industry, but can create havoc for anyone making a claim after getting hurt at a Walmart in Hialeah.

In conclusion, this kind of information is what we are here for. My Miami car accident lawyers and I are happy to provide you a free consultation (in person, not on Facebook) regarding your potential claim–just Email me or call us at 305-441-0440 to set it up.

Thank you again for reaching out to me,

Spencer Aronfeld

PI Lawyer in Florida