Media During A Personal Injury Suit

 A Guide To Using Social Media During A Personal Injury Suit & How It Can Affect Litigation

(& stories of social media during a personal injury suit fails)

Glenn Taylor learned the hard way why not to use social media during a personal injury suit.  Boy Scout leaders Glenn Taylor and David Hall were filmed knocking over an ancient 2,000-pound sandstone with his bare hands in Goblin Valley State Park.   They had been troop leaders for a few years, and hoped to continue to be involved in the organization in the future.  Both men are from Highland, Utah, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Excited to share their adventure with the world, the men posted the video on social media after they arrived home. In the video you can hear the men laugh as the boulder, known as a “Goblin,” toppled over.

State park officials thought the video was anything but funny.  Those “goblins” date back to the Jurassic period. Jeff Rasmussen, deputy director of Utah State Parks and Recreation, said they are concerned about what happened.

“It’s a valley full of these rocks that are perched up on these earth platforms, and obviously we’re very concerned and upset that someone would come and destroy this natural wonder that took millions of years to be formed,” he said.

The men claimed that the rock was loose and easily slipped and fell down the mountain side but the park officials said that did not matter.  Both men say they greatly regret their actions.

“I wish we would have been smart enough to go get a ranger cause it was wrong of us to be vigilantes, and I’m sorry I did that,” he said.

The State and Boy Scout officials did not think that remorse was enough.  Eugene Swalberg, public affairs coordinator for the Utah State Parks, pointed out the men received ample warning when entering the area. All who enter the park receive a brochure that states, “It is unlawful to mutilate or deface a natural or constructed feature or structure.” The Boy Scouts of America took a strong stand against the men’s actions, saying they were disappointed in their “reprehensible” behavior and ultimately removing them from the Boy Scouts. 

You may be thinking “what does that video have to do with how to use social media during a personal injury suit?” Well, above is just the first consequence of Taylor’s boulder blunder….

Weeks before he pushed the boulder, Glenn Taylor filed a personal injury lawsuit against Utah resident Alan Macdonald for “permanent and debilitating injuries” stemming from a 2009 car crash allegedly caused by Macdonald’s daughter.

After watching the video Macdonald stated “Someone with a bad back who’s disabled, who can’t enjoy life, to me, doesn’t step up and push a rock that big off the base.  He lines up, gets leverage and pushes that big old rock several times before he finally pushes it over.  Then he turns and twists and high fives and yucks it up and flexes his muscles. He just doesn’t look like a terribly disabled person to me.”

In 2009, Taylor was in a car accident with Alan McDonald’s daughter.  Taylor was not hospitalized after the crash, but did file suit citing  “great pain and suffering, disability, impairment [and] loss of joy of life.”

Permanent and debilitating?  Loss of enjoyment of life?  The defendant in 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.”When asked to explain his apparent lack of physical trauma in the video, Taylor stated, “You didn’t see how hard I pushed.”

Macdonald said that so many people have seen the infamous video he wonders if Taylor will have second thoughts about suing his family.  The credibility of Taylor is doubted by many because of his use of use of social media during a personal injury suit.

Taylor is not the only person who found himself in trouble after using social media during a personal injury suit.  Here are some other people who should have avoided using social media during a personal injury suit:

•              A Los Angeles-area warehouse worker who claimed his back was too injured to work bragged about bowling a 300 game on his Facebook page

•              A judo instructor filed for total and permanent injury, then posted the dates he was available for class instruction.

•              A bronco-riding champion filed a claim and soon after invited his online buddies to attend his upcoming competition.

In fact, we recently reported on a local person whose fraudulent scheme was discovered while using social media during a personal injury suit. A Marathon-running chiropractor was recently jailed for filing phony personal injury claims.  His fraudulent claims were discovered after he used social media during a personal injury suit he was involved in and seen participating in several 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon races.

If a claimant is caught doing things they allegedly cannot do, then that can significantly affect the outcome of their personal injury case.  They might really be injured (maybe the rock was loose and easy to push) but the public’s perception of the incident can change the outcome of the case.

Anything posted on any social medium can and will be used to defeat their claim in a lawsuit.  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.

Below is a guide to using social media during a personal injury suit:

How to use social media during a personal injury suit tip 1: DO: Disable Facebook and/or Twitter. These are personal and searchable. It’s too tempting to write about your everyday life, and your ‘everyday life’ can jeopardize your claim. If you do not want to disable your Facebook account, at least limit your profile so it can only be viewed by friends.  It is worth noting that the contents of your account can be requested by the opposing lawyer

How to use social media during a personal injury suit tip 1: DO NOT: Post information about your accident on Facebook, Twitter, or social media sites of any kinds.  This includes pictures, comments and videos.

How to use social media during a personal injury suit tip 2: DO: Take old photos and updates that could be used against you off the internet. Are you claiming a back injury in your lawsuit?  Did you write a status complaining about an achy back years ago?  Take any comment that could jeopardize your claim.

How to use social media during a personal injury suit tip 3: DO NOT: Post information about your recovery. We do recommend that you keep a daily journal documenting your pain, appointments, etc.  But, it is very important that you keep this private.

How to use social media during a personal injury suit tip 4: DO: Google yourself. You might be surprised what you find.  Try to have any pictures that could potentially hurt you taken down.

How to use social media during a personal injury suit tip 5: DO: Monitor friends’ activity. If they post photos of you, make comments about you, check you in to locations, etc., you need to know.  The safest thing to do is to keep your settings private, so photos, comments, locations, etc. will not appear on your social media pate.

There are many ways that using social media during a personal injury suit can hurt your case.  So, as much as you want to share your feelings with the world, it is best to fight your social media sharing urge.

To clarify:

This guide of how to use social media during a personal injury suit is only a guide for a truly injured victim, who may not realize what a large role social media plays in their lawsuit.

For the folks thinking of filings fake fraudulent injury claims, this guide of how to use social media during a personal injury suit is not at all for you.  If anything, reading this will hopefully deter you from making a false claim, because on top of being unethical, you can see from the examples above that social media makes it very easy to catch those who are not truthful.


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