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Social Media Can Ruin Personal Injury Claims

Social media distraction

Cell phones are dangerous when people use them while driving or walking down the street. Irresponsible and dangerous cell phone use, which is rising, can result in injuries to an unsuspecting person who is driving or walking. California has outlawed the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. See California Vehicle Codes 23123, 23124, 23125. The Vehicle Code is very broad when it comes to handheld devices and include texting or other use of the phone or handheld device (i.e, social media use).

The social media that people use so much can limit or altogether eliminate the amount of monetary damages an injured person may collect when attorneys for the defense obtain access to the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media accounts of the plaintiff (the injured person who is suing). You should avoid posting to any of the social media platforms, physical activities that the insurance company may have access to without your knowledge.

If you’re injured, you may sue and seek damages from the party or parties who caused your injury. Those parties’ attorney’s job is to limit damage totals or get the cases dismissed altogether.

More than 11,000 people were injured in distracted walking accidents between 2000 and 2011, according to the National Safety Council’s website. And the rate of injuries is increasing year by year. That trend is expected to continue because more people are using phones.

For your safety, realize that more than half of distracted walking injuries happen in the home, not when people are driving or walking down the street.

The National Safety Council writes:

“The rise in cell phone distracted walking injuries parallels the eight-fold increase in cell phone use in the last 15 years. It is just as important to walk cell free as it is to drive cell free. Pedestrians and drivers using cell phones are both impaired and too mentally distracted to fully focus on their surroundings. For pedestrians, this distraction can cause them to trip, cross roads unsafely or walk into motionless objects such as street signs, doors or walls.”

As for distracted driving, the NSC reports (PDF file):

“Today there are more than 320 million wireless connections in the U.S. And although public sentiment appears to be turning against cell phone use while driving, many admit they regularly talk or text while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nine percent of all drivers at any given time are using cell phones, and the National Safety Council estimates about one in four motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use at the time of the crash.”

From 1994 to 2012, between 32,800 and 43,500 U.S. residents were killed in automobile crashes. The tally is about 77,300 deaths. The victims include pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and people in automobiles. The NSC puts the data in perspective:

“There are activities people tend to think are riskier than driving, such as flying in an airplane, but consider this: The lives lost on U.S. roadways each year are equivalent to the lives that would be lost from a 100-passenger jet crashing every day of the year. In addition to the thousands of fatalities, many more people suffer serious life-changing injuries in motor vehicle crashes. More than 2.2 million injuries resulted from vehicle crashes in 2010.”

The use of cell phones and social media carry a double whammy of danger. The person talking, texting or posting updates is in danger of injury if they do it while driving or walking. Plus, if an injured person sues a negligent party and posts stuff that refutes his claim, it can be used against him and greatly reduce or entirely eliminate recovery of damages.

Even a post that seems to be benign can torpedo a personal injury claim.

In a personal injury claim or lawsuit, your lawyer and his team collect information to be used as evidence to support the claim.

But the defense attorney also seeks evidence to prove the person suing was at fault or had a pre-existing condition. The defense attorney will try to downplay the amount of damages the suing party sustained. The defense attorney collects evidence and finds witnesses who can refute the plaintiff’s claims for mental, physical and monetary losses.

One thing many defense attorneys do these days is to gain access to social media accounts to read them or see photos showing evidence that the injured party was not hurt as bad as they claim. Also, if you had head trauma, for example, in an accident and posted to your social media something about a headache before the accident happened, a defense attorney may say your claim is invalid because you already had headaches or a pre-existing condition.

Even if you have set your social media accounts to private so that only your friends can see what you post, state and federal courts have said attorneys can still obtain access to such accounts.

Another thing to beware of is deleting information that you think attorneys could use to deny your claims. If you delete or destroy even private postings, there is still the chance that the defense has already seen it and printed it.

If you get injured through the negligence of fault or another party, the last thing you want to do is to post stuff to your social media. If you decide you’ll keep posting to social media, don’t mention injuries or vehicle damage and most certainly don’t post photos of yourself playing sports or doing other physical activity.

Refrain from angrily complaining about the defendant. This may be construed as the plaintiff being lawsuit-happy or suing out of bad blood.

Another note of caution: Some attorneys request friendship with people who are injured so they can monitor the injured person’s account for updates that would damage the lawsuit. Don’t automatically friend everyone who seeks it. We believe it’s OK to friend your own attorney so that he/she can monitor your posts but not the defense attorney. We have also heard of cases where defense attorneys or their staff will befriend a plaintiff to see what they are posting. Also, be careful of friend request for nice looking men and woman or “hotties” that do not have any friends in common with you, this may be a spy for the defense.

Personal injury attorneys are experienced at getting people who are injured through the fault of others the maximum amount. Don’t make your attorney’s job harder by sabotaging your case on social media.

If you need representation, you pay nothing for Krasney Law to assess your case and explain your options to you at your first meeting. Then Krasney Law collects no fees unless you receive a monetary settlement, or your case goes to trial. The bottom line is, “No Recovery – No Fee”

Even if you don’t hire us to shepherd you through your entire case, at least consider hiring us to review your settlement documents with you.

If you were injured in an automobile or other type of accident, please call us at (909) 380-7200.

You may also contact us on the Web at https://krasneylaw.net/contact-us.

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