Social Media and Personal Injury Lawsuits: How Toppling a Boulder Could Topple a Lawsuit
You may be familiar with the video and the story by now. Two men and a teenage boy were hiking through a State Park in Utah when one of the men pushes hard on a huge boulder until it finally topples from its position. The men laugh, and they high-five each other and the teenager. The man who was not pushing the boulder over was filming the event, and then put it on You-Tube, where it went viral.
And that is when the man who pushed the huge boulder over got in huge trouble. When Mr. Taylor pushed the boulder over, he disrupted a Jurassic-era rock formation in the Goblin State Valley Park and could face charges for defacing state property. In addition, both men and the teenager–Mr. Taylor’s son–were troop leaders for The National Boy Scouts of America, which quickly addressed their actions by saying: “…these men have been removed from their leadership positions and are no longer members of the Boy Scouts of America.”
But the trouble did not end there for Mr. Taylor. Approximately one month before this boulder incident, Mr. Taylor had filed a personal injury lawsuit seeking recovery for alleged damages from a car accident in 2009. In his complaint, Mr. Taylor alleges that his injuries from the car accident have caused him to endure “great pain and suffering, disability, impairment, and loss of [enjoyment of life].” The complaint categorizes Mr. Taylor’s injuries as permanent and debilitating. Mr. Taylor is also seeking $5,000 in medical-related expenses.
Permanent and debilitating? Loss of enjoyment of life? Like many, many other people, the defendant in Mr. Taylor’s lawsuit saw the video of him hiking through the park, toppling the huge boulder, and laughing about it. In response to the video, the defendant stated that: “somebody with a bad back who is disabled who can’t enjoy life, to me doesn’t step up and push a rock right off its base.”
By posting that video, Mr. Taylor did what private investigators used to do to prove insurance fraud in car accident claims: catch the claimant doing things they allege they cannot do. In this day and age, social media does the job of private investigators much of the time. People like Mr. Taylor do not realize that anything they post on any social medium can and will be used to defeat their claim in a lawsuit. Mr. Taylor effectively ended his own lawsuit when he posted that video of himself toppling a huge boulder.
Social media can have enormous consequences in personal injury lawsuits. Everyone, including defense attorneys and the defendant in a lawsuit, can see what you do or what you say you are doing. Don’t be like Mr. Taylor and give the other side their best evidence. When you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit, or if you are currently in one, the best advice is to stay off social media.
If you are thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit and would like to get more information about your options and rights, talk to your Denver personal injury lawyer at Levine Law today.