Social Networking Sites Impact Car Accident Claims in Atlanta, Georgia
Social network sites are growing at a phenomenal rate and the trend toward detailing one’s daily activities for the world to see is starting to have a significant impact on car accident and personal injury claims. According to Pew Research Center, 68% of all U.S. adults are Facebook users, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% use Twitter.
The tendency of plaintiffs to provide constant details about one’s daily activities on social network sites is starting to have a negative impact on civil litigation where people have suffered injuries due to the negligence of another person. Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law is advising all potential or existing accident clients to avoid posting, discussing or commenting about anything regarding their accident. Any post or update (whether made visible publicly or not) on social media websites can and will be used against you.
Private investigators, insurance companies and defense lawyers are increasingly looking to social networking sites for information about plaintiffs in personal injury cases.
Insurance companies and investigators are searching social network sites looking for information to help build a defense or reduce potential damage claims. They may look for information about how an accident happened and who caused it, including an admission by the injured person that he or she was at fault. Insurance companies also look for information posted on social networking sites that can be used to undermine the credibility of a plaintiff by contradicting the injured person’s version of how the injuries occurred. In other cases, information on a plaintiff’s social network page may be used simply to embarrass the plaintiff and make the jury look less sympathetically at the plaintiff.
Some examples of the impact of a plaintiff’s social media posting are provided below:
- 1) A woman claimed she was disabled but a judge admitted Facebook photos of the woman dancing.
- 2) An insurance company downloaded and introduced Facebook video of a woman doing the limbo on a cruise after she claimed she could not work because of a back injury.
- 3) A judge ordered that information regarding the frequency of one’s Facebook use be introduced where the person claimed brain injury.
In other cases, the information on a plaintiff’s social network page may be used simply to embarrass the plaintiff and make the jury look at the plaintiff less sympathetically. The insurance company may look for information to show the plaintiff is a “bad person” by showing the plaintiff doing something illegal or immoral. While such evidence is not always admissible under Georgia personal injury law, the defense may try to use it to make the jury view the plaintiff in a more negative light.
Conversely, Montlick & Associates may use information posted to the general public on a website by the defendant in a car accident case. Here is an another example of how a social media site posting was used by a court: A woman who was involved in a car accident while under the influence of alcohol was involved in a fatal accident in which her boyfriend was killed. The judge had decided to treat the woman as a juvenile meaning less harsh sentencing and post-conviction consequences. The judge discovered a picture taken of the woman during a Florida vacation several months after the accident captioned “Drunk in Florida.” The judge was so disturbed by the picture he decided to sentence the woman as an adult. It is reasonable to assume that a civil jury might also be inclined to consider such photos when deciding on damages, including punitive damages.
The experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys at Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law advise their clients to stay away from their personal blogs and social media sites in the wake of being injured in an accident. Any pictures or content that could portray the plaintiff in a negative light should be pulled down from social media sites. However, it is not enough simply to pull the information down from one’s own social media site. The plaintiff also should have all online friends purge the plaintiff from their accounts. If a plaintiff’s photo is tagged, it is still accessible by searching.
At Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Atlanta, Georgia Car accident lawyers have been representing those injured or killed in auto, truck and motorcycle accidents throughout the State of Georgia for 35 years. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious accident caused by someone else's negligence, you should contact us today for a free consultation. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities, towns and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.