It’s a common story – a man is injured – an accident, at work, some set of circumstances leading to injury and is off work and files a lawsuit. When the man goes to trial, he’s sitting there next to his lawyer looking pathetic, with a limp, wearing a neck brace and Voila! the lawyer for the insurance company whips out giant blown-up photographs or dramatic video of the man repairing his roof, water skiing, or dancing at his daughter’s wedding. The judge bangs the gavel and the man and his attorney are pummeled with tomatoes and sent along their frivolous and greedy way. It doesn’t happen quite like that – but it does happen.
Unfortunately, there are enough people among us who do file frivolous suits, or who overstate injuries, or who just plain lie, that it behooves insurance companies and defense lawyers to employ investigators to check out a person’s claims as to the true nature and extent of the alleged injuries. Some of that happens in person – there really are people who drive around with cameras, photographing you, your residence, your trip to the grocery store, etc. But also in today’s society, more and more of that investigation is happening online. And, since many of us today are prolific in our social media postings – checking in as we visit locations, daily posting about work, chores or other mundane activities – it is quite likely that these postings are going to be reviewed by an investigator and/or the defendant’s attorneys once a lawsuit is underway.
Even if an injured person sets their profiles to private, a savvy defense lawyer (and they are) is going to ask if those profiles exist and if they do, you should expect a request to see the contents and you should be aware that the photos, videos and comments in your media postings may be used against you at trial. If you claim knee injuries so severe that you can’t work and are in constant pain and it then turns out that you’ve posted a picture of yourself planting a new rose bed with your sisters, or participating in a 30-mile bike ride, that is going to impact how a jury looks at you and your claims. And it isn’t just your own social media that investigators will review. Family members, co-workers and fellow club members are all potential sources of information.
And, it’s good to remember that in the same way social media may be detrimental to a person’s lawsuit, it can also bolster a person’s suit, as a personal injury lawyer Delray Beach, FL trusts can attest. Someone who isn’t able to participate in a pre-scheduled event, may post something indicating regret that he or she was unable to attend. Or a post may evidence an injured person thanking someone for coming to help while the injury victim was unable to accomplish his or her daily chores and regular activities. In the end, we all do well to think on occasion about what twelve strangers might think of us if they had access to all of the data in our phones and online.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Eric A. Luckman, P.A. for their insight into social media and accident claims.