The Impact of Social Media when you are Involved in Litigation

Just about everyone is on social media these days. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and countless other platforms have become an integral part of many Americans’ everyday lives. It is not hard to see why social media has such a mass appeal; the ability to stay connected with family members and friends in various parts of the world and exchange messages, share news, photos, and status updates in real time is a revolutionary way to communicate.

Social media has definitely brought our world closer together, and under normal circumstances, there is nothing wrong with being active on your favorite platforms, as long as it does not consume so much of your life that you do not have time for other important priorities. If you are involved with any type of litigation, however, it is a totally different story.

Whether you are in the middle of a divorce, personal injury claim, business dispute, or criminal proceeding, your social media activity can be used against you to damage your case. Here are a couple of examples of what can happen if you remain active on social media while you are involved in a legal proceeding:

Scenario 1: Let’s say you were in an auto accident where you sustained whiplash injuries and injuries to your lower back. Your neck is stiff, and you have to wear a brace for a while, and your back pain is so bad some days that you can barely walk. The injury is expected to keep you out of work for several weeks, and you are also feeling anxiety and depression that is related to the trauma of the accident and the uncertainty of when your life will return to normal.

During the midst of your accident injury claim, you post status updates to let your Facebook friends know how you are doing. You are generally an optimistic person and you don’t want your friends to worry, so your posts are typically upbeat, letting your friends know that you are feeling better and that you hope to be back at work soon. You also post some photos of you sitting in a spa without your neck brace on while you are enjoying a relaxing weekend with your family. Investigators for the defendant (or their insurer) uncover your Facebook posts and use them to claim that your injuries are not nearly as bad as you are alleging.

Scenario 2: You are in the middle of getting a divorce, and of course, you have told several of your friends about it. You are having a dispute with your (soon to be) ex about your kids and the parenting schedule you are trying to work out. In the heat of the moment, you post something derogatory about your spouse and how he/she treats the kids. There might be some truth in what you posted, but much of it is exaggerated for effect. Posts like these are never looked at kindly by family courts, they are usually seen as an indication of someone who is angry, bitter, and perhaps emotionally unstable. Having this type of post out there could damage your arguments regarding how much time you should be allowed to spend with your kids.

Why you Should Not Post on Social Media during a Legal Proceeding

When you are in the middle of litigation, the best course of action is not to discuss the details of it with anyone other than your attorney. And this definitely includes posting anything about the case on social media. Here are a few things that it is important to know about social media and legal proceedings:

You Have No Right to Privacy with Regards to your Social Media Activity

Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to use information obtained from a plaintiff’s or defendant’s social media account in a court of law. This applies not only to comments and photos that you may have posted yourself, but also photos from someone else’s social media account that you are tagged in. It is important to note that even potentially damaging messages that are sent privately (through a messenger app, for example) could also most likely be admitted as evidence without any objection from the court.

Strict Privacy Settings May Not Protect You

You might be thinking that all of this sounds bad, but it won’t affect you because you have the strictest privacy settings for your social media accounts. Don’t count on it! Investigators these days are very tech savvy, and it is their job to uncover information that is not easy to find. They know a lot of tricks to get inside of your network, such as creating a familiar profile and becoming a friend of a friend or some similar scheme. So again, we must reiterate, do not count on privacy settings to keep your social media activity from being uncovered during a legal proceeding.

Deleting Social Media Posts could be Considered Spoliation of Evidence

Once you say something electronically, you really can never take it back. And when you are involved in litigation, the rules of evidence apply to your social media activity just as they do to any other form of evidence. Your social media posts are discoverable, and they can be subpoenaed by the other side if it comes to that. And if you delete your posts, this could be considered spoliation of evidence, depending on the circumstances.

How Should I Deal with Social Media During a Legal Proceeding?

The short answer to this question is – take a break from social media if you are involved in any type of litigation. You should even go so far as to suspend your accounts so you cannot be unknowingly tagged by someone else. If you do not think you can quit social media cold turkey, then at the very least, strictly follow the advice of your legal counsel. Your attorney knows the specifics of the case you are involved in, so if you want to post something on social media, do not do so without talking to them first.

 

 

What are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Claims?

Millions of Americans are hurt or killed each year in various types of accidents and events, and many of these incidents are caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party. A personal injury can leave a person confused and disoriented and not sure what to do next. The injury can take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on the victim in their household, and they may not know where to turn for the help they need.

It is important to know that any time you get injured in an accident or event that might be someone else’s fault, there are two things you should do immediately; get proper medical attention and speak with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.

You might not know the full extent of your injuries, and you might not know exactly how the injuries happen. You may think some of it was your fault, but you are not really sure about all these details. Once you have your injuries treated, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by talking with an experienced attorney.

If it turns out that you have a case, it is best to get an attorney involved as early in the process as possible. Otherwise, your right to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries could be jeopardized. You can be sure that the other side will go to work right away on their defense, and you need someone by your side who was looking out for your best interests.

The Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law covers a wide range of cases, and in order to win a claim, you must prove the following:

  • Another party owed you a duty of care;
  • This duty of care was breached;
  • The breach (in duty of care) was the proximate cause of your injury; and
  • Your injury resulted in compensable losses.

Here are some of the most common situations in which a personal injury claim may be appropriate:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

More than 30,000 individuals are killed in accidents involving motor vehicles each year, and hundreds of thousands more suffer serious injuries. Vehicle accidents can involve two cars that collide, a commercial truck crashing into a passenger car, a vehicle colliding with a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian, and multi-vehicle collisions. Those who are injured as drivers or passengers in a motor vehicle accident may be entitled to significant monetary compensation, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Workplace Accidents

No one plans on getting hurt at work, but unfortunately, workplace injuries happen every day. When someone is injured in a workplace accident, they are usually barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit directly against their employer. Instead, they would file a claim for benefits through workers’ compensation.

There are some cases, however, when an outside party is responsible for a workplace injury. For example, a worker could be injured by a subcontractor who is performing a task nearby, or they could get hurt as a pedestrian or driver while they are outside the workplace on company business. When this happens, it may be possible to bring a personal injury claim directly against the responsible party.

Premises Liability

When an individual is injured because of a dangerous or defective condition while on someone else’s property, they may be able to file a claim under the legal theory known as “premises liability”. Examples include slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, and animal attacks.

The strength of a premises liability claim depends largely on what the visitor status of the injured party was when they enter the property. Those who are explicitly invited onto a property (such as customers, hotel guests, and tenants) generally have the strongest case, while those with implicit permission (such as neighbors, social guests, and door to door salespeople) may have a harder time recovering damages. For trespassers, it is very much an uphill battle in most cases.

Product Liability

There are numerous products on the market that can cause serious injury during the course of regular use. If a defective or unsafe product causes an injury, the injured party may be able to file a claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the product under the legal theory known as “product liability”.

Wrongful Death

Some accidents and events result in death. A serious car crash, an explosion in a factory, a drowning in a swimming pool, and numerous other fatal incidents like these could be the result of another party’s negligence or recklessness. When this is the case, a wrongful death claim may be appropriate. Wrongful death cases are similar to personal injury cases, although there are some special rules that apply.

Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer in South Carolina

If you or someone close to you suffered injury or death because of the actions of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. If the injury occurred in South Carolina, contact the Nowell Law Firm for assistance. Message us online or call our Spartanburg, SC office today at (864) 469-2481 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

What Should I Do if I’m Denied Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

In South Carolina, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system that is designed to provide benefits to employees who suffer an injury on the job, regardless of how it was caused. There are a few exceptions to this, such as self-inflicted injuries and injuries that occur because of a violation of company policy, but in general, your employer is supposed to cover you as long as the illness or injury is work-related.

Unfortunately, obtaining workers’ compensation benefits is not nearly as easy as it should be. The system is complex and confusing, and many employers make it even more difficult by throwing up unnecessary roadblocks that are designed to frustrate a worker into giving up on the benefits they deserve.

If you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits by your employer or their insurer, this does not necessarily mean it is the end of the road. Call our office for a free, no obligation consultation, so we can take an in-depth look at your case and advise you of your next steps.

Common Reasons why Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Denied

Employers and their insurers will often look for a reason to deny a workers’ comp claim, so they can save money on premiums or benefits that have to be paid out. Here are some of the most common reasons for a workers’ compensation claim denial:

Your Injury did not Happen on the Job

Workers’ compensation benefits are only available for injuries that are work-related. In some cases, this is fairly clear-cut. For example, if you slipped and fell at home and hurt yourself, you could not reasonably expect your employer to cover that. There are other instances, however, where things are not so clear. For example, if your boss asked you to go pick up lunch for you and the rest of the crew and you were injured on the way to the restaurant, this could be considered work-related, even if you were “off the clock” when it happened.

Your Injury was the Result of a Pre-Existing Condition

Closely related to the previous point, your employer could claim that your injury already existed before your workplace accident, therefore you are not covered. However, even if a workplace accident aggravated or worsened an already existing condition, you might still qualify for workers’ comp. This is another one of these complicated instances that needs to be looked at by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

You Did Not Receive Proper Treatment/You were not Treated by an Approved Medical Provider

in South Carolina, your employer has the right to choose your medical provider. If you saw your own provider without their permission, or you did not get medical treatment at all for your injury, they may claim that you are faking or exaggerating your injury, or that you do not have adequate proof that it happened.

You Missed the Deadline for Filing a Claim

Many workers’ compensation claims are denied because of technicalities, such as missing a filing deadline. In South Carolina, you are supposed to report a workplace injury within 90 days of it occurring. Some employers misread the law and try to impose deadlines that are sooner than 90 days, and there are other instances when the exact origin of the injury is unclear. This is common with repetitive stress injuries and others that occur over an extended period of time.

Appealing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in South Carolina

If you were denied workers’ compensation benefits in SC, you have the right to file an appeal with the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Commission. The first step is to submit a hearing request (to the commission) along with the required fee. Once this is done, the next step will usually be an informal conference.

At the informal conference, the parties will try to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute. If the dispute cannot be resolved, a hearing can be scheduled before a workers’ compensation commissioner. If you are dissatisfied with the results of this hearing, the second level of appeal is a hearing before a panel of three commissioners. If this does not yield a successful result, you can bring your case to the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

Although you are not required to retain an attorney for the appeals process, your chances of success are greatly increased when you have experienced legal counsel in your corner. Your attorney will know the ins and outs of this process and be able to represent you through each step. They will prepare the strongest possible case on your behalf, so you are well-positioned to obtain a favorable outcome.

Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Spartanburg, SC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Whether you have just suffered a work-related illness or injury, or you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits, the Nowell Law Firm is here to help. Call our office today at (864) 469-2481 or message us online for a free consultation and case review.