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Can Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Other Social Media Sites Destroy Your Personal Injury or Workers' Compensation Claim?

Defense attorneys and insurance investigators comb social media sites to expose exaggeration of claimed injuries and disabilities in an effort to destroy plaintiffs' claims to a court or jury.
 
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    CHICAGO, IL, March 15, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When clients hire Chicago injury attorneys to represent them in auto accident, workers compensation, and medical malpractice claims, they often fail to realize that the filing of a lawsuit turns their lives into an open book.

Perhaps a worker claims that as a result of an injury to their leg they can never work again? They sit for a deposition or other interview under oath describing the pain and suffering they continue to sustain and their inability to run or engage in other physical activities. At the same time they post statements, photographs or video on their social media site referencing participation in a 10k race or 25 mile walkathon for charity. Perhaps they also post vacation photographs boasting of their ability to ski "black diamond runs" in Colorado or playing tennis in Florida.

Defense attorneys and insurance investigators comb social media sites to expose exaggeration of claimed injuries and disabilities in an effort to destroy plaintiffs' claims to a court or jury. They also look for the names of otherwise undisclosed friends and coworkers that they can interview to challenge the claim.

Given my 38 years of experience as a Chicago personal injury lawyer, prior to social media defense attorneys and insurance companies would hire private investigators with video cameras to follow the injured around for weeks at a time with the hope of catching them engaging in strenuous activities contrary to their sworn statements. If the defense desired to use the testimony and video at trial they were forced to disclose it in advance to the plaintiff's attorney. A deposition of the investigator would of course follow the disclosure. Given the fact that significant sums of money that were paid to the investigator for the video services, insurance companies most often felt compelled to use the video even if it showed a slight injury exaggeration by the plaintiff. At trial I would typically cross examine the investigator using the following series of questions:

Q. Mr. Investigator is it true that you were given the assignment to follow and video the plaintiff in an effort to document the physical activities they engaged in during a designated period of time?

A. Yes

Q. You in fact followed the plaintiff with your video camera 14 hours a day for a period of 3 continuous weeks?

A. Yes

Q. Can I assume that your video documented the most active and strenuous activities engaged by the plaintiff during that time?

A. Yes

Q. During that period of time the only activity you documented the plaintiff engage in was mowing his lawn will limping behind the mower?

A. Yes

As you can see I was able to take the defendants witness and turn him into the plaintiff's witness to win the case.

Unfortunately for plaintiff's that which they publish upon their own social media sites does not permit me to turn the evidence against the defendant as I did in the above referenced illustration. A plaintiff hanging themselves through their own words and photos presents quite an often impossible challenge.

Please remember that once you publish personal facts about yourself on social media sites the information is there for everyone to see whether friend or foe.

At Steinberg, Burtker & Grossman, our Chicago attorneys believe that practicing law is not just a job, it's a craft. Personal injury claims, especially tough ones, cannot simply be worked through. They must be thought through. Every element must be carefully considered. Strengths must be analyzed and weaknesses must be recognized. A strategic method must be employed and is employed by the personal injury attorneys at our Chicago law firm. Call 866-942-8024 or visit www.rickgrossman.com.



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Rick Grossman
Steinberg, Burtker & Grossman

Chicago, Illinois
United States
Voice: 312-957-8102
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