Broderick Law Firm, LLC

What Injury Victims Can Learn from the Christmas Tree Throwing Case

It’s not often that U.S. news and social media is littered with information about a personal injury case from another country. But, the dismissal of an Irish woman’s case briefly caught widespread attention, in part because of the reason her case was dismissed. She was seen in a news photo participating in a Christmas tree throwing competition. In fact, she won.

Of course, there are differences between Irish law and procedure and our laws and court proceedings here in Massachusetts. But, there are some overlaps. For example, if you’re claiming to have been disabled by an injury–disabled to the point that you say you can’t work or play with your children–you ought not to be seen hurling a tree through the air.

While this is a somewhat extreme example, it highlights an important issue for those pursuing personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.

The Burden of Proof is on You in a Personal Injury Case

If you’ve been injured because someone else was negligent, your personal injury lawyer will have to show that the other party was responsible for your injuries. Your lawyer will also have to prove your damages. Insurance companies don’t like to pay settlements, and they certainly won’t pay more than they think is necessary. In a high-stakes case, it’s not unusual for the insurance carrier to investigate to try to prove that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim. That’s true in personal injury cases, but also in workers’ compensation cases and disability cases.

The problem is, it isn’t only people exaggerating their claims who can be hurt by this type of investigation. And, it doesn’t take something as dramatic as popping up in the press throwing an entire tree. Innocent social media posts–even casual conversations–can be used against you. For example:

  • A photo or video that appears to show you doing something that suggests your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim. You might think this would only be a problem if you were lying about your condition, but that’s not necessarily true. Imagine, for example, that you pick up your three-year-old niece at a family cookout and quickly discover it was a mistake and that’s more weight than you can handle. But someone at the event snaps a picture in the brief moment you’re holding the child and posts it on Instagram. Images like this can be used by the insurance company’s lawyers to persuade a jury that you’re exaggerating your condition.
  • Putting on a brave face. It’s common for people to try to paint the brightest possible picture of their lives in social media. Some take this to extremes, photoshopping fake backgrounds into images to claim they’re traveling to exotic locations. More often, though, it’s just cheery statements about what a wonderful weekend it’s been or how you had a great time at the family barbecue–perhaps the same one where you hurt your back and set back your progress by momentarily picking up a child. That all-too-common positive spin may come back to haunt you when you’re seeking damages for pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.
  • Talking about how your injury happened. Few people tell exactly the same story with exactly the same level of detail every time they relate an event. But, the smallest inconsistency can be used to call your testimony into question.

These are just a few examples of how what you share in social media may hurt your case–even if you think your privacy settings are protecting your content. Your personal injury attorney can provide more information about safely using social media, the types of conversations you should avoid, and other ways to protect your claim. Until you have a chance to consult an attorney, it’s best to refrain from posting in social media and avoid talking about the accident with anyone.

To help you get the information you need quickly and at no risk, we offer free consultations to people who have been injured in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. You can schedule yours right now by calling 978-459-3085 or filling out the contact form on this site.

Free Consultations

To schedule a free consultation with attorney Kevin P. Broderick, just call 978-459-3085 right now. Kevin has been helping people who were injured in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for decades, and can provide the knowledge, guidance, and determination you need.

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