Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are dominating the way we use the Internet and communicate with our family and friends. Specifically, Facebook has grown so rapidly that it recently overtook Google in daily users. However, with this new trend towards detailing so much of our private lives, we need to be aware of who potentially might view our information and be especially vigilant if you’re involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
A recent California case involved a man that had been in a car collision with United States Postal Truck. Eric Sedie of Corte Madera testified that “every possible aspect of his life has been and will be affected until the day he dies”. Court documents showed that he had difficulty bike riding and participating in strenuous activities.
Judge Elizabeth Laporte allowed his social media site profiles to be included in the evidence and as a result, there were many inconsistent statements presented. With the addition of surveillance videos and other testimony, Sedie’s personal injury case dropped from $2.5 million to just under $300,000.
In another recent case in Ontario, California, a woman who claimed to be disabled from an accident had photos on her Facebook page of her dancing. In her personal injury case, the judge allowed the photos to be admitted into evidence. These factors can have troubling effects on your case.
Social media has created a new monitoring tool for insurance companies to investigate claimants and potentially find evidence to reduce claims. Obviously they are searching for anything you may have written regarding the accident; how it happened, who caused it, and possibly any admissions of guilt. In addition to any statements involving a case, the investigators may also review your photos and statements to see what type of person you are. In some jury trials, the defense could use your social media profiles to influence the jury and show the plaintiff in a negative light.
Online experts agree that strengthening your privacy settings is not an answer. You should not in a personal injury case exaggerate your claims, and you should post truthfully on these social media outlinks. Otherwise, you will be a likely victim of your own exaggeration and limitations. And regardless of whether you are involved in a case or not, you should always be mindful of your duty to be accurate and fair on the internet.
James Ballidis is an author of several books on the law, and practices as a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. If you need help with a case, you can contact us to consider representing you. Call 866 981-5596 for a free discussion on your claims and rights.