The things you say right after a car accident can come back to bite you, and that doesn't just mean the words that come out of your mouth. It also means your tweets and other social media posts.
This isn't just a hypothetical issue. Omiesha Daniels found out the hard way that what you tweet can hurt your court case, even if you're the plaintiff.
Daniels was injured in a car accident that happened in Georgia, and sued for $1.1 million in damages. But the defense used her tweets to decrease that award significantly.
As part of her lawsuit, Omiesha Daniels claimed that her injuries made it impossible for her to continue working as a hairstylist, reports Reuters. But her tweets told a different story.
The defense lawyer used Daniels' posts on Twitter to prove that she wasn't as injured as she claimed. He showed the jury her tweets about partying in New Orleans and enjoying the beach during spring break. There was also a photo of Daniels carrying a purse on her previously broken arm.
Originally the jury awarded Daniels $237,000. But after seeing her tweets, they reduced the award to just $142,000, reports Technorati.
In a car accident case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was at fault in the accident and then must prove that she is entitled to damages. That means proving some loss or injury caused by the crash.
Some of the more common injuries plaintiffs claim include medical bills, ongoing treatment to deal with the injury, and lost wages as a result of lost employment.
At trial, the plaintiff presents evidence to prove the extent of the alleged injuries. But the defense will likely try to prove that the injuries aren't as bad as the plaintiff claims.
Statements by the plaintiff can be used as evidence to reduce the amount of damages. But it's clear that juries are paying attention to all forms of expression, including those made on Twitter and Facebook.
Daniels probably wishes she could take back those tweets, but at least you can learn from her mistakes. If you have a lawsuit pending, make sure you talk to an experienced attorney to make sure your remarks on social media don't ruin your chances for recovery.
- Proving Fault in Accidents (FindLaw)
- Be Careful What You Tweet, Smart Phone Evidence in Divorce (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- Facebook Alibi: Social Media as Defense Evidence (FindLaw's Blotter)