Millions of times each day, Americans both young and old share a part of their lives on some type of online social media outlet. Social media use has become so culturally pervasive that nearly two-thirds of the adult population in the United States use Facebook or other networking sites. The number is significantly higher in certain demographics, with younger age groups reporting that 90 percent of them use social media. Sharing life’s big moments can certainly be a good thing, but oversharing can sometimes cause problems, especially if a post contradicts claims being made in a personal injury lawsuit for negligence and product liability.
In late March 2011, a woman was shopping at a mall in Trumbull when she set off security alarms leaving a store. Instead of stopping, the woman reportedly walked away and began going down an escalator near the store’s exit. When the store security called to her and asked her to come back, she turned and started walking up the downward-moving escalator. The woman fell, fracturing her right ankle, which required several surgeries and left her with a permanent partial disability. Claiming the escalator was defective and dangerous, the woman sued the mall for negligence and the escalator manufacturer for product liability.
The Plaintiff’s Claims
According to defense lawyers, the woman noted the escalator was not equipped with brush guards, which are safety devices that prevent riders’ feet from getting caught between the outer edges of the step and the metal wall. Though common, Connecticut law does not require brush guards on escalators. The woman claimed that the heel of her shoe caught in the gap between the step and the wall, causing her serious ankle injury. Surveillance video from the mall, however, did not substantiate her claim.
Social Media Contradictions
During the trial, the injured woman reportedly showed up using a cane and appearing quite disabled. She claimed that the injury severely impacted her quality of life. A scan of her social media accounts seemed to show otherwise. Court records indicate that the defense presented the woman’s social media posts that depict her performing her job as a Zumba dance instructor. The stark contrast between her claims of disability and her appearance on social media seemed to create serious doubts in the mind of the jury. Deliberations took less 20 minutes, and the jurors returned a verdict in favor of the mall and the escalator company.
Think Before You Post
One of the biggest criticisms of Facebook and other social media outlets is that they are all about appearances. It is easy to create an alternate version of one’s self on the internet. Appearances, however, can matter a great deal during a legal proceeding, especially when social media posts seem to be contradictory to claims being made in the courtroom. When you are involved in any type of proceeding, it is important to remember that social media posts are not private, even if you intend them to be. Anything you say or post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram could easily become evidence in your case, even if it is just to challenge your credibility.
If you have been injured and would like to know more about your options for seeking the compensation you need to get back on track, contact an experienced Hartford personal injury lawyer. We will work hard to protect your rights, and help you avoid making potentially damaging mistakes along the way. Call [[phone1]] for a free consultation today.