A 21-year-old college student who dreamed of becoming a teacher was in an accident with the Defendants’ truck. She claimed $2,400,000 in medical expenses and lost wages as well as traumatic brain injury. But pictures on her MySpace page showing her at parties after the accident told a different story to the jury. Her MySpace page told of her partying, dancing, going to school and applying for jobs. Defense counsel simply did some Internet investigation and found valuable evidence on this younger litigant from the “confetti generation.” The general view of the defense bar is that once you put this information out on the Web, you are disseminating it for public viewing (AND use in court). At ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., we have used the Internet to do our own investigation on a Defendant, and have seen shocking examples of Defendants’ putting on the Internet information about themselves that they would never want coming out in Court.
As Herndon Reston injury lawyer Doug Landau likes to point out, “Anything you say, publish (in print or on the Web) can and WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU.” Social networking sites can be a quick and easy way to keep “in touch,” but what is put on the Web does not always stay on the web. Many law firms conduct extensive Internet investigation of all plaintiffs, their families and doctors, but their other witnesses as well. Defense lawyers will seek information to challenge the credibility of the plaintiffs and their witnesses in traumatic brain injury or other permanent injury cases. If the defense can successfully question the plaintiff’s witnesses’ credibility, they can counteract the sympathy that jurors often have for the victims of catastrophic head injuries. Lawyers USA, p.11, Verdicts & Settlements, July 28, 2008