Social Media’s Evidence Role in Personal Injury Cases

Social media has changed the way society functions in everyday life; many individuals feel the need to snap that morning picture of their breakfast on Instagram or follow whatever their favorite celebrity is doing on Twitter, but social media has also changed the game for defense lawyers when it comes to digging for evidence. A large amount of social media users fail to realize that someone else, besides friends and followers, can be viewed all their content to use against them.

It doesn’t matter what you think your privacy settings are set to or how you ‘know’ who your followers are; if you’re in the process of a personal injury claim there is still good ol’ word-of-mouth that can throw all of the work that you’ve done away in moments.  

This doesn’t mean you need to live like a hermit and shut yourself off from the world during a personal injury claim. Just remember that every action you take, whether in the real world or online, can have long-lasting consequences. Anything can be used against you even if it isn’t necessarily wrong. It’s always wise to keep a low profile and be mindful of what you post until your claim is determined.

Try to keep these tips in mind during a personal injury claim process:

  • Make No Statements

    – Do not discuss your personal injury case or the situation in which it happened on any social media platform.

  • Think Twice Before Posting

    – Always think of the possible outcomes that could come from anything you post on your social media.  No matter how unrelated to the case it may be, it can be:

    • Misconstrued – whether or not you believe you are clearly explaining your case, what you say can be easily intentionally misunderstood and presented in a light that is harmful to your case.
    • Taken out of context – similarly to the above-mentioned issue with posting on social media, what you write on social media can be readily taken out of context. With a bit of a trim here and a bit of an edit there, your internet tirade against the party that injured you will rapidly turn against you and harm your case.
    • Used against you – This should go without saying. Everything you say can and will be used against you doesn’t just apply to word of mouth; it includes your social media diatribes.
  • It’s Not Just About You

    – Every case isn’t just about just the plaintiff and the defendant. Everybody in your life and theirs is roped in, including friends, family, neighbors, witnesses/community, your best friends, that one-second cousin who follows you on snapchat that you haven’t seen in years. Anyone can be a part of this case.

When Do Most Pedestrian Accidents Occur?

 

Pedestrian accidents happen across the U.S. every day and the death toll is in the thousands range. Predominantly occurring in urban environments, these accidents have a higher statistic of taking place than in rural areas because of higher impact speeds on rural roads and fewer overall pedestrians. Nine times out of ten, these accidents are at the fault of the driver involved, not the pedestrian. The U.S. pedestrian accident statistics alone show that on average, a pedestrian is injured in an accident every 8 minutes and one is killed every 111 minutes.

 

On average, 72% of pedestrian accidents happen at night, usually around midnight. In almost half of all these reported accidents, alcohol was involved. It’s important to understand that not only is it essential that you don’t drink and drive, you must also not drink and walk outside. Senses are blurred and more accidents take place. This is why it is best to try and avoid walking at night if possible. If you must, always wear reflective clothing that can be seen and keep to the sidewalk, if available, towards oncoming traffic. If a car’s movement may seem unstable or has no idea you’re approaching, always try to stay as far out of its reach as possible to avoid any danger.

If you or your loved one is involved in a pedestrian accident, always remember the following:

  • Call 911
  • Never leave the scene of the accident before help arrives
  • Gather all info on any present witnesses
  • Refrain from making any statements to anyone

Those who may be legally responsible for your injuries in an accident may try to shake that blame on to you. Due to statutes of limitation, you have a small window of time to bring a claim for your injuries forward. Seek an Attorney to assist you in this matter and help bring you and your loved ones the help you may need.

 

What Should You Do If You Slip/Trip and Fall?

You never think it will happen to you, but it very well could. More than 300,000 serious injuries are the result of slip and fall accidents just in the United States alone. Even the death statistics for this incident ranks only second to automobile collisions in overall fatalities.

With a range of common causes from uneven pathways to negligent maintenance, this type of accident can happen to anyone. And then what? If you sustain a serious injury, how will you heal and provide for yourself and your loved ones?

Here are the necessary steps to take when experiencing a slip/trip and fall incident.

 

  • Medical Help 

     If you’ve been a slip, trip, and fall accident, your first priority is to seek medical help. You want a doctor to tend to your injuries and to properly document them. All documented medical records are important pieces of evidence needed if action needs to be taken.

 

  • Report your Accident 

     Wherever the slip, trip, and fall accident happens, you always report it. Whether that be a manager, owner or landlord, you want them to document the details of the incident in writing and ALWAYS acquire a copy before you leave the premises.

 

  • Document EVERYTHING 

    This is the most important step. Collect all the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses (even Facebook profiles) from every potential witness at the site of the accident. If you decide to pursue a legal claim, it’s their statements that can prove your claim. With your smartphone, take pictures of the EXACT spot where your fall happened.  Make sure to get all sides and any conditions that contributed to your accident.

 

  • Decline to Give Statements 

     Until you’ve spoken to an attorney, all communication with the property owner, manager or insurance company should be limited. Decline to give any statements unless your attorney says otherwise. Also, you shouldn’t be posting anything about your accident on social media. This is very important.

 

  • Call your Attorney

     The help of an attorney is who you’ll need by your side when pursuing legal action. Slip, trip, and fall cases are very common and therefore can become tedious and sometimes difficult to prove. You want the experience of a successful law firm fighting in your corner and giving you the empowerment you need.

How to make a diminished value claim

 

In the insurance industry, there are three types of diminished value to know about:

  • Immediate diminished value

The resale value of the car immediately prior to an accident and value immediately after the accident, prior to repairs.

  • Inherent diminished

The difference in the value is between the resale value of the car before the accident and after it has been repaired.

  • Repair-related diminished value

Any loss of value resulting from incomplete or faulty repair work.

Once you know which diminished value you’re claiming, you will choose whether you are first party or third party. Keep in mind that every state has its own diminished value claims laws set in place. You can find where your state stands with first or third party laws at https://www.mwl-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/diminution-of-value-in-all-50-states.pdf.

Once that step is done, you will need an appraisal depending on your car’s situation. Keep in mind that if this is an accident situation, no one’s going to pay you a large sum of money for a car with a tainted history. It’s always wise to document your car’s worth after necessary repairs via Kelly Blue Book. It’s important to request a trade-in value letter from the car dealer that states the lower value is due to previous damage, though the repairs have been made.  

The hardest part of this whole ordeal will be to request the other party’s insurance company to compensate for the diminished value. Sometimes it can turn into a negotiation situation when the insurers refuse to pay your claim, or offer a small compensation that is calculated by an industry formula. If this is the case, then there’s nowhere else to turn but the small claims courts. However, keep in mind that these courts do have jurisdictional limits. When filing a small claims case, visit the court clerk’s office to request what forms you’ll need to submit for a case.