The ground-breaking advancement in technology over the past decade has impacted the lifestyles of many of the world’s inhabitants. As more and more avant-garde technology permeates into our life, we tend to become more reliant on it in our day to day activities. Technological devices provide a wide palate of tangible benefits as well as a plethora of intangible benefits. One such technology is social media. With the advent of social media sites like face-book, twitter, linkedin, Pinterest, etc., there has been a paradigm shift as to how we communicate on daily basis. Whether it is the way we celebrate or express our grief, anger, rebel, etc., social media has taken the center-stage. All in all: social media has given us a platform to showcase our expressions and desires.
However, what is meat for others can be a poison for some, especially for those who are claiming for personal injury benefits. Social Media can mar your chances of getting benefits under personal injury. In the recent case of Alan Danagher and Glantine Inns Limited (2010 IEHC 214) ***, the Plaintiff claimed damages for an assault on him, by the Defendants security staff at a night club. The Plaintiff in his claim stated that the security staff had strangled him by the throat while trying to break a fight and removing him from the scene, and in the folly left him asphyxiated and chocked. In this squabble, the Plaintiff complained of suffering from soft tissue injuries to his neck and back, which he stated required compelling physiotherapy. He stated that not only did this incident force him to quit his high profile job in rugby and boxing, but also developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with symptoms of sullen mood, anxiety and nightmares. Such conditions he stated made him avert social gatherings and night clubs where he used to frequent because he always felt cold feet. All was set for the case to go in the favour of the Plaintiff, when suddenly the juries observed some evidence contrary to what the Plaintiff claimed. Some evidences, which unknowingly put forward by the Plaintiff himself, strengthened the case for the Defendant. Entries such as these in the wall of the plaintiffs face book page like:
“Activities: playing hurling, rugby and Gaelic football.
Favourite music: anything that will get me dancing and hitting the roof.” ***
“Ya I tink we mit be going out alrite, ul probably come across me drunk on a dance floor somewhere during d night anyway,” ***
The posts showed the out and out discrepancy to the claims he was trying to put forward regarding his lifestyle. Self authored entries in Facebook by the Plaintiff showed his enthusiasm and participation in sports like rugby, hurling and Gaelic Football.
Video tape evidence from the night club also proved that the Plaintiff was not chocked by the security staffs at all; instead, they acted in a very professional manner tying to stop the fight and remove the Plaintiff from the scene as he stood on someone’s head. The plaintiff was also seen to have been participating in a parachute jump in a charity event six months after the event which was covered by a local news paper. The court concluded that the plaintiff had deliberately misled the court by overstating his injuries and engaged in the act of dishonesty. The Judge dismissed the claims made by the Plaintiff against the Night club on the grounds of dishonest fraudulent claims.
The case above shows how a post in the social media can wreck your case. You should be very careful what you post in the media while your case is going on. as a Plaintiff, you not only need to be careful about what you post in social media, but also what you do publicly. If you are claiming for a spinal cord injury and there is video footage showing you dancing in a night club, there will be enough evidence to mar your chances for getting a favourable verdict. Always keep in mind that you are under surveillance when your case is going on. Do not be naïve and assume that defense attorneys are tied to the office; they have numerous resources- including private investigation- to track your daily activities.
As the face of personal injury law is changing and lawyers are trying their hands at various routes of technologies, one needs to use technology diligently and judiciously so that it can be used in their favour, instead of against it. At The Upton law firm, lawyers bring to the table years of experience handling personal injury claims by helping legitimate victims get their claims quickly. If you have any questions about how you should handle your personal injury claim or about the material in this blog post, contact us today.