Information on Social Media Sites Available to Attorneys

I know you love to update your Facebook status and Tweet awesome photos from lunch, but if you’re in a lawsuit, will social media help or harm you?

While PCMag.com is reporting that Facebook is losing U.S. users, Facebook still has approximately 150 million users in the United States alone, totaling about half of our country’s population. Expressing yourself and sharing information is what social media is all about. However, if you are involved in a lawsuit, the disclosure of your personal information could change the direction your case is headed.

In a recent article entitled “Digging Up Social Media’s Treasure Trove of Discovery” the term “Facebook frontier” is defined and discussed. The “Facebook frontier” is a way for lawyers to do research on a plaintiff or defendant in a case to see what they are telling the world – what’s really happening in their lives – instead of what they’re just telling their attorney.

The article cites a May 19th opinion by Judge Charles H. Saylor which allowed the defense counsel to review the plaintiff’s public and private portions of Facebook and MySpace pages. Rulings similar to this one have been seen in Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, and Canada already.

If you’re scared, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Here are some tips on how to stay social media savvy:

  1. Google yourself.
  2. Set up Google Alerts to notify you when specific things, like your name, is mentioned.
  3. If you have work history online, make sure the information is correct and up-to-date.
  4. Never misrepresent yourself.
  5. Watch what you post – especially if you’re under a non-disclosure agreement or restrictive covenant.

Here are some legal tidbits on social media matters:

According to the article, Philadephia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee Opinion No. 2009-02 and New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion No. 843 have opined that a lawyer may not “friend” a party or direct someone to “friend” a party to secure information about that party for use in a suit. Doing so would involve deceit or misrepresentation and violate the lawyer’s ethical obligations. Also, there has been no official opinion published on deceptive “friending” in Texas, however, it would be “afoul” of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-601-1229 for a free consultation.

NY Woman Steals $43,300 in Workers’ Compenation Benefits Sentenced

According to the Times Union, a paper in New York, a woman who faked a serious neck injury to steal $43,300 in workers compensation benefits was sentenced on Thursday, June 23rd. Kelly Woods claimed she suffered a neck injury in a workplace accident at a construction company in Colonie. She claimed she had permanent fixed torticollis, which is described as permanent flexion of the head at a 90-degree angle.

Ms. Woods was caught in the scam after being video taped moving her head and neck freely the article stated. When she learned of the charges against her, she fled to Utah. Once she was extradited from Utah, she plead guilty to third-degree insurance fraud. According to the article which cited District Attorney David Soares’s release, Ms. Woods was sentenced to one to three years for faking her injury as well as waiving future claims to benefits.

I’m glad that Ms. Woods was brought to justice in this matter. It was unjust of her to lie about her condition and defraud not only the company she claimed to work for, but Workers Compensation and the labor board out of money. Her actions may make it more difficult for those who are actually injured on the job to receive Workers Compensation benefits. I believe that the sentence she was given was just and fair. Since she can no longer claim benefits, it has freed up money for others.

Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-601-1229 for a free consultation.

Parole Date Set for Shooter of Murray Police Sargent in 1999

In case you missed it The Salt Lake Tribune is reported that Quentin Hurlich was given a parole date by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole on June 24th. Mr. Hurlich shot Murray police Sargent Ross Huff in the leg, pelvis and hand back in 1999. Mr. Hurlich plead guilty to first-degree felony attempted aggravated murder and received a sentence of five years to life in prison.

The Salt Lake Tribune quotes Sgt. Huff at the June 2nd parole hearing as saying “As the time has passed over the years, I can have no feelings of ill will toward Mr. Hurlich. However, I will maintain Mr. Hurlich poses a threat to society. This board would be doing a disservice to not only myself, but to every law enforcement officer in this state by granting any decision for his release.”

Against Sgt. Huff’s suggestions, Mr. Hurlich will be paroled in June 2028. However, the article in The Salt Lake Tribune also states that after Mr. Hurlich is paroled, he will serve a 78-month federal prison commitment for weapons violation.

Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-601-1229 for a free consultation.