Today’s guest post is from law student Emilee Atteberry. Hats off to Emilee for jumping on the blog train. She is miles ahead of many lawyers who are afraid to take the plunge into the blogosphere.
Emilee is in her last year of law school and enjoys writing on a variety of law topics. She is particularly interested in becoming a personal injury attorney and currently writes for Peach and Weathers
Car Accident Claims – After the Crash
We live in a world where nearly everything we do is posted on social media. It is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends about the events in our lives. If, however, you have been injured in a vehicle accident it is advisable to watch what you say online. A growing number of plaintiff’s in accident cases are learning that lesson the hard way by having their social media posts brought into court as evidence.
In Gwinnett County, Georgia, a recent lawsuit illustrates just how much social media can hurt a case. A commercial vehicle was found at-fault in an accident with another car. The driver of the car, the plaintiff, suffered severe injuries including a large scar to her forehead. At trial, she argued that her injuries prevented her from performing her job and that her facial scar was an embarrassment.
Unfortunately, her Twitter posts over the years following the accident provided the defense with an argument against her claims. In one post she mentioned that she was starting to love her scar and in another she was shown carrying a handbag in the hand she claimed was so injured that it encumbered her ability to work. In fact her Twitter posts showed her living a different life from the one she was claiming at trial. Contrary to her claims, her posts made her out to be happy and leading a fairly normal life.
At trial, the plaintiff’s attorney asked for damages of over one million dollars, primarily for pain and suffering. The jury, however, awarded her damages totaling only $142,000. It appears the plaintiff’s social media posts played a major role in the jury’s decision.
The above case is just one of a growing number where social media is being used in the courtroom as evidence against a plaintiff’s claims. If you have been injured in an accident and are seeking damages, it is the best course of action to avoid posting anything until your case is over. If not, at the very least filter everything you post in terms of how it may be used against you in your case.
Beware of unknown individuals wanting to friend you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter. Although ethically questionable, these could be players for the opposing lawyers looking to gain access to your social media in an effort to find information that could be used against you in court.
Your social media could be considered as evidence by the defense. If this happens to you, don’t be like the individual in a New Jersey case that claimed his injuries affected his ability to carry on a normal life. As questions about his social media posts were being pursued by the defense, the plaintiff decided his best option was to delete his account along with all the posts.
Even if you think your posts may hurt your case, don’t try to prevent access to information by the defense by destroying it. Ultimately, it will only hurt you. In fact, many posts can be rationally explained to a jury. Deleting posts, however, leaves a jury wondering what you are trying to hide.