We represented a nice lady injured when she fell in a store in San Antonio after some construction equipment was left bolted in the walkway. Her injury was on video, it was not her fault, and she had a serious injury. However, her use of social media created problems for her case that we did not anticipate.
Speaker: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
My clients are always shocked when I tell them to prepare that the insurance company on the other side will probably hire somebody to perform surveillance on them. Now, this doesn’t happen all the time or really even half the time, but it happens more than you would think. Not only will they hire private investigators to follow people around, video them, take pictures of them, they’ll also hire companies to do online surveillance where they will dig into their social media. The goal of the insurance company in these situations is to muddy the water enough, that they can make that plaintiff scared to go to trial.
Rarely but sometimes, social media has done enough damage to a case that it has affected the value and the likelihood that you could win a trial. One such example involved a client I represented who had a very serious arm injury. Her arm injury was so severe, she required surgery, months of rehabilitation, and she had very limited use of her arm after her injury.
In the deposition, the defense lawyer asked her questions about what she could do with her arm and she told him as honestly as she could, what she could do with her arm at that time. However, when we got to mediation, they presented us with pictures and videos of our client doing more with her arm than she could at the time of her deposition.
Now, they took the position that she was lying in her deposition, and our client said she just was slowly getting better and was able to do more with her arm. Now, this client wasn’t dishonest, but it shows you the links the insurance company will go to try to say that a personal injury victim is dishonest and making things up.
Now, this lady was injured through no fault of her own. Her surgery and rehabilitation and her mounting medical bills are not her fault, but in mediation, the insurance company and defense attorney spent the majority of their time trying to say she was a liar. My client was very scared of going in front of a jury because she was worried they would think she was dishonest. Her case resolved that day, even though I didn’t think it was the best choice for her. At the end of the day, the client has the decision whether or not to settle their case. She was worried about what happened at trial with that social media stuff coming in front of a jury.
It just reminds me and it’s a story I tell all my new clients to not put anything on social media, to assume that the defense attorneys and insurance companies are going to look at all your social media and try to find a way to say that it represents something that you say doesn’t exist. Whether to say that you’re more injured or less injured, or to say that you look happy when you say you deal with depression on occasion. Insurance companies will do anything they can to delay and deny claims. When it comes to social media in a case, I tell all my clients, just put it on hold until after your case results.
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