In Florida, if you are injured accidentally because another person was negligent, in most cases, you are entitled to complete compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, and all other related losses. But being “entitled” is no guarantee that you’ll be compensated. Even if you file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer, you could still inadvertently damage your own case. Keep reading to find out how.
The internet – particularly social media – is continuing to have an ever-bigger role in many persons’ lives. If you’re injured by negligence in Florida and you choose to take legal action – or if you have a personal injury case currently pending – it’s imperative to realize that nothing you post online – on Facebook, Twitter, or any other platform – is ever really private.
Many personal injury lawyers will tell a client to post nothing at all online until that client’s case has been resolved. Why? Because the comments, photographs, and videos an injury victim posts online can become evidence – evidence that could be used to deny injury victims the compensation they need and deserve after being injured by someone else’s negligence.
HOW CAN SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECT PERSONAL INJURY PROCEDURES?
In spite of that advice, what personal injury victims are doing and saying online is now having a significant impact on their personal injury cases. Here’s an example: Let’s say a person trips and falls in a retail store’s parking lot because of a pothole in the pavement. The person claims paralysis and sues the retailer for a seven-figure amount to cover a lifetime of medical care.
The retailer’s attorneys will aggressively search for any evidence suggesting that the injury victim is not genuinely paralyzed and the injury claim is bogus. Thus, if those lawyers discover posts or “tweets” about – or photos of – the purported injury victim dancing or playing basketball, the claim will be denied. That’s a radical example, but if you’re injured and entitled to compensation, until the claim is resolved, be careful about tweeting or posting anything.
A personal injury lawsuit seeks to recover damages for one person because of an injury that a different person caused by acting negligently (or by negligently failing to act). The defendant’s lawyer or lawyers in a personal injury case will scour the internet for any suggestion that the victim hasn’t actually been injured or is overstating the scope of his or her injuries to receive compensation that is not deserved.
HOW WERE INJURY CASES INVESTIGATED BEFORE THE INTERNET?
In the old days before the internet – that is, in the 20th century – when insurance companies and lawyers in these cases needed to know if a personal injury plaintiff was fabricating or exaggerating an injury, they would hire a private investigator who would follow and record the plaintiff’s activities and behaviors.
Private investigators still get some personal injury work, but in the 21st century, lawyers and insurers also look at a plaintiff’s online comments, tweets, photographs, and videos. They also might interview the plaintiff’s neighbors, colleagues, employers, and friends to uncover any behavior that helps to disprove the plaintiff’s injury allegation.
If you become injured in Florida because another person was negligent, the best advice is simply to avoid social media entirely until you receive your compensation. A brief tweet about something as trivial as mopping the floor or washing your car could be introduced as evidence to dispute your personal injury allegation.
CAN “POSITIVE” ONLINE POSTS HURT YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
Personal injury claims are usually about more than the merely physical. Injury victims often also cite emotional suffering and pain, but an online post by a victim may be offered by a defense lawyer to refute such a claim. Why? Many of us share online only “the positive” – to encourage friends and keep up everyone’s spirits – but “positive” tweets and posts may also cause others to presume that a plaintiff is overstating or simply fabricating a claim of pain and suffering.
It’s also important to realize that making derogatory or critical posts or comments about the person who injured you is not going to help in a personal injury case. Instead, you’ll appear to be a bitter person who carries a grudge. The truth is that there is very likely nothing that an injury victim can post on the internet that will help his or her personal injury case.
HOW IS THE INTERNET CHANGING OTHER TYPES OF LEGAL CASES?
The internet isn’t just impacting personal injury law. Criminal prosecutors and divorce lawyers are also scouring social media for evidence that can help them convict criminals or obtain better divorce settlements.
If you’re considering or already pursuing a lawsuit to recover damages for a personal injury, but you are “addicted” to the internet and can’t stay away, follow this advice:
– Do not post about your lawsuit, accident, or injuries.
– Do not post about your activities.
– Do not accept new friend requests from strangers.
– Always take advantage of the strongest available privacy settings.
When you consider or move ahead and file a personal injury lawsuit, ask this question to yourself about anything you post online: Would you want the judge or jurors in my personal injury case to see this? They will, so if your answer is that you would not want the post seen by anyone, don’t post it.
CAN’T ONLINE POSTS BE KEPT PRIVATE – OR BE DELETED?
In several states, judges have allowed defendant’s attorneys in personal injury cases to have full access to the plaintiff’s online posts – including the posts that are supposed to be “private” or “deleted.” There is no way to overstate or stress strongly enough the fact that nothing posted online is truly private or is ever genuinely deleted. Virtually everything that’s posted can be recovered or found stored somewhere.
In Central Florida, if you become injured and it’s another person’s fault – in a traffic collision, an accident on the job, an incident of medical malpractice, or any other accident – contact an experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer at once. If you chose to take legal action, your personal injury lawyer will try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement, but if no settlement can be reached, your lawyer may recommend going to trial.
If your personal injury case does go to trial, your personal injury lawyer will develop a trial strategy, interview witnesses, compile evidence, and fight aggressively for the justice you need and the compensation that you deserve. Your lawyer will probably also tell you to keep a low online profile – or to stay off the internet entirely – until the matter is finally resolved.
Nothing is a higher priority than your future and your health. Speak to a personal injury attorney immediately if you are injured by someone else’s negligence in the Orlando area, and obtain the high-quality legal help that will protect and fight for your rights as an injury victim.