With more than 70 percent of adults actively using social media, it’s vitally important for anyone with a personal injury claim to be aware of the pitfalls of social media use. As an article in The Huffington Post points out, social media is a rich resource for insurance defense attorneys looking to prove that a plaintiff’s injuries are not as serious as alleged.
The article mentions the “true story of Fotini Kourtesis,” who was injured in a rear-end collision that affected her social life and limited her ability to engage in activities she once loved. Her claim was undercut, however, by Facebook pictures that showed her “being lifted into the air with her brother and dancing after the accident.” She lost her case. This case should serve as cautionary tale for all those bringing personal injury claims: you don’t want your claim of significant injury that has substantially limited your ability to live as you did before the accident to be contradicted by social media posts that create a false impression that life is better than it is.
A typical claim for a serious motor vehicle accident can include damages for medical expenses and lost wages. These are easily proved by presenting the providers’ bills and records of your earnings before and after the crash. But there are more abstract claims you could include, such as:
- Lost future income
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The items in this list all refer to the difference between how you lived your life before the accident and how you are forced to live now.
To prove your case for these less tangible losses, you must demonstrate to a jury the limitations imposed on your life due to your injuries. A very seriously injured person can undercut her claim with a single Facebook post that shows a much rosier picture than reality. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we cannot emphasize enough how cautious a plaintiff must be.
Take the case mentioned above. Suppose after Ms. Kourtesis was lifted by her brother, she suffered a return of debilitating pain that set back her recovery? Suppose the dancing lasted only a few seconds, before pain forced her to retake her seat? The reality behind the photos might be totally consistent with the story she told, but after seeing those pictures — worth a thousand words each — the jury might not trust her explanation.
Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson represents New Yorkers injured due to negligence in a wide range of personal injury cases. To schedule a free consultation, call [ln::phone] or contact our firm online.