In an era where social media has become a popular source of information, you should be aware that the things you say on Twitter (or Facebook, or “Insert Next Big Social Platform Name Here”) may be used against you in a court of law – no Miranda warnings (or other prior notice) required.
This lesson was learned the hard way by Omiesha Daniels, who was injured in a car wreck in Georgia. Originally, Ms. Daniels sued for more than $1.1 million in damages. Although the jury originally awarded Ms. Daniels $237,000, the award was reduced to $142,000, after the defense used Ms. Daniels’ tweets against her.
In a personal injury lawsuit such as Ms. Daniels’ case, she has the burden of proving the extent of her injuries, which may include medical bills, ongoing medical treatment, and lost wages. Even where the defendant’s liability is not in dispute, however, the any defense attorney worth her salt will try to prove that the plaintiff’s injuries are not as severe as claimed. Often, the plaintiff’s statements, including those made online, may be the most vital evidence of all.
Ms. Daniels claimed that her injuries prevented her from returning to work as a hairstylist, but her tweets described parties in New Orleans, beach romps during spring breaks. A photograph of her carrying a purse on the arm that had been broken did not help Ms. Daniels, either. In response to the evidence presented against her, Ms. Daniels claimed that the handbag was not heavy, and her attorney advised that the jury did not understand the complexity of her job. Ultimately, according to the defense attorney, Ms. Daniels’ tweets were her undoing.