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Social Media In The Office

Ever wonder how different employers regulate the use of social media? The Huffington Post released an interesting article that, although a few years old, covered some interesting trends that arose in social media use in the office.  Some of the more interesting points include the following:

  • Almost 100% of companies now use social media in some way for their businesses
  • There has been a 20% increase in the number of organizations that have formal social media policies from 2013-2014
  • Fewer than 20% of organizations have provisions that protect against social media misuse by ex-employees
  • To read more, please visit  the original article from the Huffington Post by clicking here


Social media use has many implications for clients pursuing a personal injury claim.  Similar to applying for a job or being an employee within a company, your social media activity is not as private or as protected as you may think.  For example, an innocent picture of you enjoying a short walk after your accident may be misconstrued as a full and complete recovery.  Additionally, posts/comments from friends suggesting that you're healthier than you really are may come across as you being insincere about your injury as well.  Social media may become dangerous for a case when certain pictures or comments are taken out of context and may be used against you.  For this reason, if you are hesitant about posting a picture or writing a comment that you feel may be used against your case, use discretion and do not post that item.  It may be even be better to not discuss your injury, and especially your legal claim, over Facebook at all.  The only way to keep your personal life as private as you want it to be is to not post anything you wouldn't want everyone to know about.


If you would like more information about this page or central Pennsylvania attorney Doug Stoehr's areas of practice, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100.

Facebook Undermines PA Woman's Personal Injury Lawsuit

Sometimes, what you post on social media can really influence the validity of your legal claim.  Recently, a Pennsylvania woman discovered this fact when she went to pursue a lawsuit against doctors whom she felt misdiagnosed her.  According to the report, published by McCall.com, the Pennsylvania Superior Court recently ruled that the woman failed to sue doctors within the two-year statute of limitations for such cases.  The woman's original argument was that physicians misdiagnosed her Lyme disease as multiple sclerosis. 


  According to the article, the woman "had argued she didn't know about her Lyme disease until she tested positive for it in 2010, nine years after she first developed symptoms. She argued the statute of limitations didn't start until her diagnosis." However, Facebook evidence brought into the case showed that the woman had been telling people for many years that she thought she had Lyme disease, which the court felt lent less credence to her case. 


If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, you should be careful about what you choose to post on social media sites.  Even if you are significantly injured, defense attorneys might try to twist what you write or update to compile a case against you. One picture or post, taken out of context, may cost you a significant amount of money in a personal injury case.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury attorney serving western and central Pennsylvania. Please call his office for your free initial consultation at 814-946-4100.

Facebook May Impact Your Legal Claim

In recent years, Facebook and other social media sites are changing the ways that laws are interpreted and executed in terms of evidence and discovery.  Information from Facebook and other social media sites is becoming increasingly popular to use in the "discovery" aspect of personal injury litigation.  In recent years, several cases involving personal injury claims and social media have set the precedent for the admittance of social media into the courtroom for years to come.  


One of these cases involved an employee of Weis Supermarkets suing the company because he claimed to have suffered an injury to his knee while working.  Although he did require surgery to correct his knee, he claimed that he could not participate in physical activity and never wore shorts because he was embarrassed by his surgical scar.  Discovery material provided from Facebook resulted in pictures of the employee engaging in intense physical activity, as well as wearing shorts that plainly showed his surgical scar.  Because the bulk of his case rested upon his inability to take part in the physical activities he had previously enjoyed, his case did not have much merit once the Facebook pictures were admitted as evidence.

In the wake of social media being used as evidence in court cases, some experts anticipate a few issues will start to creep up in national news.  One of the most pressing is publicity rights as they relate to social media.  When a person posts information and pictures, it may or may not be considered allowable for companies to use the information commercially without written consent.  This issue has not formally been decided, but will play a huge role in how internet advertisers create ads in the future.  Additionally, the concept of who actually owns a Twitter account is another hot-button issue. If a company uses a Twitter account for marketing and branding, does the employer or the employee own the account?  This becomes an issue if the employee chooses to leave the company and may request to take his/her account and followers somewhere else.  


If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, you should be careful about what you choose to post on social media sites.  Even if you are significantly injured, defense attorneys might try to twist what you write or update to compile a case against you. One picture, taken out of context, may cost you a significant amount of money in a personal injury case.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury attorney serving western and central Pennsylvania. Please call his office for your free initial consultation at 814-946-4100.

NPR Discusses Social Media and Class Action Lawsuits

Once again, the National Public Radio is weighing in on a relevant topic to today's blog topic.  Social media and its use for legal claims has been an area of hot debate in recent years.  Can private social media posts be used as courtroom evidence?  How do you control jurors and judges who may tweet or Facebook post about a current case? Interestingly, some lawyers are also attempting to use social media to reach large masses of people for class-action lawsuits.  Read about this new phenomenon by clicking the link to the original NPR article, which can be found here.


Social media can be potentially complicated for clients pursuing a personal injury claim.  Just like applying for a job or being an employee within a company, your social media activity is not as private or as protected as you may think.  Social media can become dangerous for a legal claim when certain pictures or comments are taken out of context and may be used against you.  For this reason, if you are hesitant about posting a picture or writing a comment that you feel may be used against your case, use discretion and do not post that item.  It may be even be better to not discuss your injury, and especially your legal claim, over Facebook at all.  The only way to keep your personal life as private as you want it to be is to not post anything you wouldn't want everyone to know about.


If you would like more information about this page or central Pennsylvania attorney Doug Stoehr's areas of practice, contact our Altoona, Pennsylvania, law firm by calling 814-946-4100.

Elderly Becoming Victims of Social Media Misuse

Believe it or not, social media harassment is becoming a significant problem for elderly residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. According to a local report from ProPublica (in partnership with NPR) there has been a significant amount of Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram photos and videos posted by nursing home employees in recent years.  These photos and videos highlight residents in compromising positions, such as being naked and/or abused, covered in excrement, or deceased.  As a result, federal health officials have stated that they plan to crack down on these employees.  One such measure they recommend is having a clear policy for all workers that prohibit staff from taking potentially demeaning pictures of their residents.  Additionally, they are urging state officials to quickly investigate claims, report offenders, and recommend disciplinary action.   


In this day and age, you have to be extremely careful what you post on the internet. If there is a question as to whether it is inappropriate, illegal, and/or could potentially harm another person (mentally, physically, or emotionally) it is in your best interest NOT to post.  In terms of these particular cases in which nursing home employees were taking advantage of their elderly clients, it is obvious that what they are doing is inappropriate, wrong, and demeaning towards the other people in their care.  There is also the question if what they are doing is illegal and could be considered a form of elder abuse.  


 If you believe that you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, please contact us.  These claims are complicated and challenging, and you need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to evaluate your claim.  We have seen the pain caused by nursing home neglect and abuse, and are prepared to answer your questions.  So if you or a family member is suffering from a recent fall contact Attorney Douglas V. Stoehr  at (814) 946-4100, or go to our website at www.stoehrlaw.com. 

To read more about these incidents of inappropriate use of social media regarding nursing home/assisted living residents and employees, please click here:


https://www.propublica.org/article/health-officials-stop-social-media-abuse-of-nursing-home-residents

Are You STILL Participating in Distracted Driving? This Post May Change Your Mind

If you're still driving while using your phone, you may want to think again!  Pennsylvania law enforcement are noticing a significant increase in car accidents caused by incidences of distracted driving, such as texting and driving.  Policemen are aware of this trend and are on the lookout to catch people who are driving unsafely.  One such law enforcement officer that was interviewed in Erie, PA states that distracted driving is especially dangerous because it takes away from three separate aspects of driving--visual control, manual control, and mental focus.  To add to the problem, PA law states that you can dial a phone number and use it for voice communication while driving in our state, which is really unsafe as well! Nationally, over 1.6 million accidents were caused by distracted driving last year.  That number is simply outrageous and should not be a danger for traveling Americans on the road!

Additionally, did you know this fact? If you are involved in a car accident, Pennsylvania has at least one section on the incident report to address to distracted driving violations. Fines and charges may increase if you are cited with one of these violations. In addition to fines and charges for distracted driving, you also are putting yourself and others in serious danger.  
Attorney Stoehr represents those injured through no fault of their own, including automobile and pedestrian accidents. Call today for your free case evaluation 814-946-4100.

Social Media is Fair Game in Legal Cases

In recent years, legal guidelines have not been updated to reflect the changes made in technology, such as social media sites.  Social media sites include popular websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Google+.  Social media sites, in addition to being a way to keep in contact with friends and family, are also a way for lawyers to gather information about personal injury claims.
For those people who are pursuing a personal injury claim, it is becoming increasingly common for the defense to request the plaintiff's social media usernames and passwords.  Even if the plaintiff refuses, a court order might force them to turn over their log-in information.  With this knowledge, the defense can access your pictures, posts, friend activity, etc. to compile information about you that might be used in court.  This may range from social habits, physical activity, and any travel the plaintiff might have done.  Although this might not seem relevant, the information gathered may be used to argue that a person is more physically able than they let on (such as in the case of a personal injury claim) or that they might not be reliable (such as evidence of heavy drinking habits or illegal drug use).  For this reason, along with many others, it is important to monitor your Facebook profile and really think before you post anything.   Although you might have your privacy settings activated, they are not as effective as you might think and does not give you license to post anything you wish.  Additionally, if you are not really injured or not as extensively injured as you let on, you should not be pursuing a personal injury claim in that line.  A good rule of thumb is to remember that everything you post online could potentially be public information, so monitor your internet usage accordingly.
Information from Facebook and other social media sites is becoming increasingly popular to use in the "discovery" aspect of personal injury litigation.  In recent years, several cases involving personal injury claims and social media have set the precedent for the admittance of social media into the courtroom for years to come.  One of these cases involved an employee of Weis Supermarkets suing the company because he claimed to have suffered an injury to his knee while working.  Although he did require surgery to correct his knee, he claimed that he could not participate in physical activity and never wore shorts because he was embarrassed by his surgical scar.  Discovery material provided from Facebook resulted in pictures of the employee engaging in intense physical activity, as well as wearing shorts that plainly showed his surgical scar.  Because the bulk of his case rested upon his inability to take part in the physical activities he had previously enjoyed, his case did not have much merit once the Facebook pictures were admitted as evidence.
This is just one of may cases in which social media had a negative impact on a client's personal injury claim.  If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, you should be careful about what you choose to post on social media sites.  Even if you are significantly injured, defense attorneys might try to twist what you write or update to compile a case against you. One picture, taken out of context, may cost you a significant amount of money in a personal injury case. 
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania. For more information on his firm or to schedule a free initial consultation, please call his firm at 814-946-4100.
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