Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat – many of us are active on at least one social media channel. For better or worse, these venues make the world a much smaller place in terms of who knows what about your goings-on.

Instantaneous Infamy

We’ve seen extreme cases of this on the news recently, to the extent that people are filming themselves acting recklessly and/or breaking the law. Just to name only a couple of incidents:

Howard Blau Law discusses personal injury claims and how social media can make or break a criminal case.

Obdulia Sanchez was arrested for driving drunk and filming on Instagram when her car swerved out of control, ejecting and killing her younger sister and severely injuring another passenger.

Howard Blau Law discusses how social media evidence is used in personal injury and criminal cases, such as with Dani Mathers.

 

Last year, model Dani Mathers was charged with invasion of privacy when she took a SnapChat with a body-shaming remark of a nude elderly woman in a gym locker room.

Though most of us do not engage in reckless behavior and may be conscious about our privacy settings, your social media activity can still unravel your personal injury claim.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

Howard Blau Law discusses personal injury claims, and how social media can affect its outcome.What Qualifies?

Personal injury lawsuits seek damages for injury somehow caused by another party. This injury, whether physical, emotional, or mental, resulted in a negative impact to daily living to the point of suffering and loss.

Damages can be compensatory, in which money is sought for medical bills, lost wages, or other financial burdens or missed opportunities; or damages can be punitive, served as a punishment for the defendant.

What Evidence is Considered?

The defense team will attempt to prove that the plaintiff either has not suffered such damages, or at least not to the extent that they claim. Traditionally, evidence was gathered through interviews with people who know or interact with the plaintiff (e.g., doctors, neighbors, employers), bank or credit card account statements, or by a private investigator.

The objective of the defense team is to show that the defendant did not cause the inconvenience or extent of inconvenience as the plaintiff claims.

Consider how evidence may be collected and used against a plaintiff. A classic scenario in personal injury claims is the plaintiff claiming internal injury (e.g., severe back pain) to the point they cannot move, lift, or perform per the requirements of their job. However, a neighbor, or someone else sees them lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activity, contradicting the initial claims and ultimately undermining the case of the prosecution.

Howard Blau Law discusses the impact social media has on personal injury cases.Social Media Changed the Game

With the advent of social media, some defense lawyers can easily find themselves a treasure trove of evidence from the plaintiff themselves. Though some people believe what they post on social media is only viewed by their intended audience and completely separate from real world implications, this is far from the truth.

Howard Blau Law highlights how social media can negatively affect a personal injury claims case.Social Media Behavior Could Jeopardize Your Case

Regardless of your privacy settings and what kind of control you think you may have over your posts, there is still good old-fashioned word-of-mouth that can easily negate those efforts.

The following are examples of things people post and how it can potentially affect their personal injury claim.

 

Questionable Posts

The Implication

  • An abundance of post-incident images in a variety of places, e.g., vacationing, relaxing, dining out.
  • The physical/emotional/mental injuries claimed are exaggerated or may be a ploy to get money.
  • Any post-incident image(s) displaying yourself engaging in athletic activities (exercising, hiking, biking, surfing, e.g.).
  • Physical injuries are either exaggerated or non-existent.
  • Numerous post-incident images of going out, partying, “having fun,” etc.
  • The alleged injuries have not, in fact, interfered with plaintiff’s daily living to the extent of the claims.
  • Bad-mouthing or inciting hateful activity against the other party from either the plaintiff’s side or the defendant’s (online or otherwise).
  • Character credibility comes into question. For the plaintiff, the question could arise whether they are truly a victim or perhaps just an instigator.

Many personal injury claims have been undermined by the plaintiff themself. One particular case revealed quite the opposite lifestyle of a distressed individual, which is what the plaintiff claimed. After her teacher was convicted of criminal sexual activity and sentenced to jail, the victim went on to sue the teacher and school district for damages including loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, nightmares & sleep deprivation. However, the plaintiff’s Facebook posts revealed a smiling, partying, and active individual instead of one who might be suffering severe emotional distress. (Evidence of Life on Facebook)

Keep a Low Profile

Howard Blau Law suggests keeping a low profile during a personal injury claims or any court case may be a good idea.Just to be clear – our purpose here is not to encourage lying, perjury, or share with you how to evade people capturing you “living the life” while your personal injury case ensues.  

Our point is, every action you make in the real world or online can have long-lasting consequences. Be prepared for your life and actions to come under scrutiny, even if you have done nothing ‘wrong’.

Be aware and keep these things in mind:
  • Keep a low profile – it’s best not to discuss your court case or situation on a public platform.
  • Think Ahead – Even if something is not directly related to your case, be aware of how it may be misconstrued, taken out of context, or somehow used against you.
  • Act with integrity: Your court case affects others  – A case does not just involve you and the plaintiff/defendant. It involves friends and family, other professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.), and the community.  

 

 

Have a serious injury and need legal advice?

Contact Howard Blau.