Elmira Woman Killed In Reported Drunk Driving Crash, NY And Pa Accident Lawyer Says

State police said a Texas man was driving drunk when he killed an Elmira woman Friday.

This is just what many in the area feared when the influx of out-of-state gas workers began — an increase in the number of alcohol-related accidents. Now I certainly don’t mean to stereotype or malign every gas worker, but there is a sizable number of new workers in the area who work long hours, make a good wage, who are far from home, and who want to blow off some steam during the hours they aren’t working.

It looks like the volatile mixture of alcohol and driving resulted in the tragic death of an Elmira woman ….

WETM and the Star-Gazette have reported that Lauralee M. Widmer, 36, of Elmira, and formerly of Louisiana, was killed early Friday morning in a two-vehicle accident in Tioga County, Pa.

State police said Brandon C. Davidson, 32, of Perryton, Texas, was driving a pickup truck shortly before 8 a.m. Friday in Jackson Township when he lost control of his truck and crossed the center line on the two-lane highway, striking a sport utility vehicle driven by Widmer.

Police said Widmer was wearing a seat belt and Davidson, who suffered only minor injuries, was not wearing a seat belt.

Widmer was pronounced dead at the scene and Davidson was treated for minor injuries at a Wellsboro hospital and released.

Davidson was charged with Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence, Driving Under the Influence, Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road, Speeding, Careless Driving, Reckless Driving and Not Wearing a Seat Belt, according to the Star-Gazette.  He was arraigned and sent to the county jail in lieu of $75,000 cash bail.

Given the very aggravated circumstances of this collision– the drunken driving, the recklessness, the speeding, etc.– Widmer’s Estate could bring not only a wrongful death lawsuit but could also assert a claim for punitive damages.  Punitive damages are not permitted in all injury lawsuits but are limited to those lawsuits where it can be proven that the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent, reckless and showed a conscious disregard for the rights of others.  The general standard in New York for punitive damages is reckless conduct or grossly negligent conduct that endangers the health, safety and well-being of the public.  NY Pattern Jury Instructions, 2:278.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Widmer’s family.

Thanks for reading.

Jim
__________________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer

Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mailto: [email protected]
Office: (607) 733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
NYBikeAccidentBlog.com


Employee Beware: Do NOT Send Private Emails from Your Work Mail Account!

It seems like no-brainer. Do NOT send emails you wouldn’t want your employer to read FROM YOUR WORK EMAIL ACCOUNT!

Yet I hear about people continuing to make this same mistake. I thought I’d better offer a gentle reminder:  DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING ON YOUR WORK COMPUTER OR WORK EMAIL IS PRIVATE!

What sparked my intent to visit this topic was a recent California appellate court decision. The court ruled that even attorney-client confidentiality doesn’t apply when the email is on company servers.

This story was sent to me via Google Reader, in the LifeHacker.com post Your Employer Can Read Your Work Emails, Even to Your Lawyer [Privacy] by Kevin Purdy.

Kevin reported on a recent Wired magazine story – in a 3-0 decision, the Sacramento-based court ruled that a woman sending an email to her attorney, in a matter regarding plans to sue your employer, from your office was akin to “consulting her lawyer in her employer’s conference room, in a loud voice, with the door open, so that any reasonable person would expect that their discussion of her complaints about her employer would be overheard.”

Here’s a link to a PDF of the court’s decision on email privacy at work.

There is a loophole, but as far as I am concerned it’s risky. Wired reports that a New Jersey court found emails sent from a personal, web-based account, like Gmail, were private and confidential, due in part to the warnings and disclaimers on an attorney’s email signatures.

But passwords, notes, photos, etc., that you store on your work network, or work computer, are essentially stored in company property. Your employer was probably pretty careful to let you know that you shouldn’t violate company policies via the company equipment, and you shouldn’t have an expectation of privacy for what you put on the computer at work.

Think about it this way – what if you won a month-long cruise that you had to take right away. Your boss said you could have the time off – but in order to take care of your work, he would be going through every single file and e-mail message on your computer.Would you need a little time to set things straight?

I think even great, honest employees sometimes treat work computers more like home computers. I’m just here to remind you that you shouldn’t!

Thanks for reading,

Jim

_________________________________
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mailto: [email protected]
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

Your Employer Can Read Your Work Emails, Even to Your Lawyer [Privacy]

Your Employer Can Read Your Work Emails, Even to Your LawyerThere are many, many reasons not to use your work email address for anything remotely personal. Here’s one more: a California appellate court has ruled that even attorney-client confidentiality doesn’t apply when the email is on company servers.

Photo by Stephen Edgar – Netweb.
In a 3-0 decision, the Sacramento-based court ruled that a woman sending an email to her attorney, in a matter regarding plans to sue your employer, from your office was akin to “consulting her lawyer in her employer’s conference room, in a loud voice, with the door open, so that any reasonable person would expect that their discussion of her complaints about her employer would be overheard.” (Google Docs PDF link to decision).
As Wired writes, a New Jersey court had previously found that emails sent from a personal, web-based account, like Gmail, were private and confidential, due in part to the warnings and disclaimers on an attorney’s email signatures (so, you see, they have their place). But if you’re considering a jump from your job, or even further action, consider yourself warned.


Best Apps for Lawyers Provide Productivity on the Go

Like nearly everyone these days, I’m constantly looking for ways to use technology to make my life easier and allow me to do my job more effectively.

The recent flood of iPhone apps on the market presents many opportunities, but it’s so difficult to sort through the literally thousands of choices. Which apps work the best? Which ones are designed to fit your needs? Which ones work with different devices?

Enter Law360, an online newsletter for lawyers. Last month, Law 360 featured an article, “The Top 10 Apps for Lawyers.” Music to my ears!

Here’s an overview of the article. Although I haven’t yet tested all of the apps, I use a number of these programs frequently – and with Law 360’s recommendations, I’m sure I’ll be trying more soon.

Document management

Dropbox: a data-storage that stores info in “the cloud.” It allows you to access all types of files, including Microsoft Word documents, PDFs, and videos, from any computer or smart device. As long as you have Internet access, Dropbox makes your data available.

Documents To Go: lets attorneys easily view and edit files, as well as save documents in a specific folder – it also has a footnotes feature. The app specializes in Word documents, and makes it easier to maneuver the screen and alter text size. It’s also available for BlackBerrys, Androids and iPads, and it’s linked to Dropbox.

GoodReader: a helpful file management and access app for the iPhone and iPad. It has PDF annotation tools for highlighting, underlining and striking through text, and the app interacts with Dropbox. You may have heard of a previous PDF annotation app, IAnnotate – well, GoodReader is described as having an easier-to-use interface, one that’s simple and clean.

DocScanner: The iPhone or Android camera acts as a scanner and saves a picture (say of a document!) as a PDF. DocScanner is also integrated with Dropbox.

Editing

PlainText: a word processor for the iPhone and iPads with two integral features – it allows lawyers to create a text file and then backs it up to Dropbox. By the way, support staff with access to your Dropbox can access the documents you put there – without your having to e-mail them.

Noterize: lets lawyers mark up a document with their finger or using a stylus. It’s a key app for making quick comments or reviewing document.

Reference

Fastcase: this app for the iPhone and iPad allows lawyers to pull up any U.S. case. It tracks down information on statutes, regulations and court rules, as well, but users must be able to get Internet access for those features.

Remote access

LogMeIn Ignition: if you leave a document on their work or home computer, this remote-access app — available for Androids and Apple devices — can be a life-saver. It enables lawyers to view the screen of their computer and control it from another computer or portable device. It’s like having your work computer with you anywhere you go.

Presentations

Keynote: this app is Apple’s answer to PowerPoint. The app helps create professional-style presentations. Plug your device into a projector to display the presentation on a screen. Keynote Remote is a related app that turns an iPhone into a wireless controller during a presentation.

Scheduling

Calvetica: A simplified calendar program for the iPhone. Calvetica lets users make quick entries and edits to their calendars. It also syncs with the iPhone calendar, so lawyers can go back and forth between using Calvetica and the built-in program.

All of these apps are available in Apple’s App Store, of course! Thanks for reading and here’s to more productivity – and more down-time!

Regards,

Christina

_________________________________
Christina Bruner Sonsire, Esq.
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, New York 14902-1338
[email protected]
Office: 607.733.8866
Toll-Free: 800.ZIFFLAW (943.3529)
Web: zifflaw.com
Blog: NYInjuryLawBlog.com


Elmira Motorcycle Lawyer Announces New Community for Bikers!

Are you a biker or thinking of becoming one?  Interested in conversing with other bikers, learning about group rides, sharing pictures and stories, or looking to give or get advice on a mechanical issue?  Well, you are in luck!

There is a new resource for bikers in the Twin Tiers which is much more personal and specific than any nationwide website could hope to be.  607 Riders Forum is a relatively new website dedicated to the two wheel (and even three wheelers and quads) lifestyle.   I recently became a member, and was warmly welcomed by the members of the site.  Over the last week, I have perused the site to see what it offers, and was impressed by the breadth of knowledge in the mechanical sections of the site.  The members are diverse; young and old, experienced, new to biking, or still looking to get their first bike.  What struck me the most, though, was how friendly everyone seems to be.  There are even sections for off road enthusiasts and stunt bikes!  All in all, in seems like a great site!

So, as you gear up for the riding season, feel free to take a look at 607 Riders Forum.  You may just make some new friends, and find out they are riding through your neighborhood soon.

Ride safe everyone!

Thanks for reading,
_______________________________

Adam M. Gee, Esq.

NY and PA Motorcycle Attorney

The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY  14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]
www.zifflaw.com

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NY Accident Lawyer Warns Other NY Injury Attorneys About Internet Scam Targeting Injury Law Firms

Citibank-check

“If it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true.”

I ALWAYS keep that old saying in mind when considering any aspect of my personal injury or malpractice cases. Over the years, being extremely suspicious of something that sounds too good to be true has saved my bacon more times than I can count.

Just this past week, my suspicious instinct for self-preservation saved me from the most sophisticated Internet scam I have ever seen. What is amazing about this scam is that it is specifically targeting law firms.

And lest you think lawyers are too smart to get victimized by a simple Internet scam, think again — I am told that at least 22 law firms have fallen prey to this scam with each of them losing $300,000 to $400,000. That’s right, MORE than $300,000 each! And there is no recourse for these duped firms.

So let me tell you about the scam so you can make sure you don’t fall prey to this scam.

It starts innocently enough. You receive an E-mail from a woman who has been terribly hurt in a New York City accident. The woman tells you she is Korean and was working in the US in NYC at the time of her injury.

She says that the insurance company (MetLife in my case) has offered her $400,000 to settle her case but they are now jerking her around about paying because she has moved back to Korea due to her injuries and disability. She says she just needs a US attorney to receive the settlement check and then send her the funds in Korea.

Well, I am so used to insurance companies jerking people around for every reason under the sun, that that part of the story is entirelyplausible. Even though my instinct was that this smelled funny (and I told my wife that), I decided to play along and see where this would go.

I emailed back and said I would be happy to help but would need documentation of the settlement and additional information.

To my surprise, I was then emailed settlement documents that looked totally legitimate. They were professionally done, grammatically correct, and notarized. Not the kind of thing you normally see with the typical Internet scam where there are tons of misspellings and atrocious grammar. The documents identified a MetLife Adjuster with both a phone number and e-mail address for him.

So, I decided to continue to play along to see what would happen next.

I emailed the adjuster after checking that the E-mail was actually going to a MetLife domain. I truly thought that would be the end of it. But knock me over with a feather, I got an E-mail back from the adjuster

saying that he would process the $400,000 check and send it to me. I thought sure…..

The next day, I received a $400,000 MetLife check via FEDEX. The check (see the posted photo) looked totally legitimate and was drawn on a CitiBank account. I was amazed and was beginning to teeter on the edge of believing this actually might be legitimate. But that’s when I received a phone call from the US Postal Inspector. They asked if I had received a $400,000 check. I told them I had and they said that they were glad they had reached me before the check had been cashed or any funds had been transferred.

I was told that so far they were aware of 40 checks for $400,000 sent to lawyers and of those 40, 22 had already wired funds of more than $300,000 each out of the country. For those unfortunate lawyers, there is no recourse because the funds were now outside the US.

The Postal inspector explained that the CitiBank check did in fact have correct routing numbers for a MetLife account so that when the lawyer presented the check to his bank, that bank would honor the check because it looked to be legitimate. It would only be several days later when CitiBank rejected the check that a lawyer would learn of the scam. If the lawyer had already wired the money out of the country, they were totally out of luck.

So, a word to the wise: If it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true!” And another word to all attorneys: Wait until a check has CLEARED before disbursing any funds even if that means you have to wait 7 to 10 days. Better safe than sorry!

Thanks for reading,

Jim

_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mailto: [email protected]
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
NYBikeAccidentBlog.com


Turn Social Networking To Your Advantage: Scope Out Attorneys – And the Other Side

online-research-keyboardLast year, I wrote a few posts on the NY Injury Law Blog about the risks of social media/networking for personal injury plaintiffs. In my posts “Experienced Attorney Warns: Protect Your Personal Injury Case by Being Smart About Social Media” and “Don’t Let Facebook Torpedo Your Client’s Case!” I warned readers about making missteps on social networking sites and undermining their personal injury cases. Insurance company attorneys deliberately pose as “friends” to infiltrate your social media. They can look for photos, messages, or other information that gives them ammunition to shoot down your case.

But I may have been guilty of some “glass half empty” thinking when it comes to social media such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, I’ve recently realized.

What to remember: Your posts on Facebook are not always private. Your tweets on Twitter will reach more readers than you may realize. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the opposing side’s attorneys are going to find a way to tap and use all the information they can to undermine  the case against them – YOUR CASE.

But, and this is a big BUT, you CAN put social media to work for you – to find the best personal injury attorney. Because of the very wealth of details social media can offer on any given person, I’ve warned you to protect your privacy online. At the same time, don’t be shy about using it to YOUR ADVANTAGE.

I use social media to market my practice and the Ziff Law Firm. I encourage people to become a fan of the Ziff Law Firm on Facebook, and to follow me on Twitter – JimReedNYLawyer.

I write on the NY Injury Law Blog to share information about safety and legal issues in New York and Pennsylvania – for readers it’s also a good spot to get a feel for where I stand on some issues, and the standards I set for myself.

I track other attorneys’ blogs to keep up with new developments myself – an inspiration for this post was “Use Social Networking Tools to Find Out About the ‘Players’ in Your Trial” from TrialLawyerTips.com by Jackson and Wilson, Inc.

Here’s a great quote from the post: “What you need to understand is that the amount of information that can be found about someone using social networking searches is almost unlimited.”

Jackson and Wilson were writing from a “lawyer to lawyer” point of view, letting fellow attorneys know of the options for researching opposing counsel, jury members and court officials through social media online. I think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Orkut, etc., are a great resource for legal clients as well. The last word: When it comes to social media, use it to post carefully and research thoroughly.

Thanks for reading,

Jim
_________________________________________

James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com
E-mail me at [email protected] for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know.

http://www.zifflaw.com/NYInjuryLawBlog/don%E2%80%99t-let-facebook-torpedo-your-client%E2%80%99s-case

Google Scholar Launches Online Access to U.S. Laws and Cases

I want to pass along some BIG news that is wonderful for everyone: Google is now offering FREE access to a huge amount of U.S. law through Google Scholar.

Why is this a big deal? Because historically law firms have had to pay incredibly high rates to gain access to online case law via services such as WestLaw and Lexis. The Ziff Law Firm currently pays more than $6,000 a year to Lexis! I have been longing for the day when we can eliminate that cost.google_scholar_logo

(Google has been developing Google Scholar for years now – it’s “a freely-accessible Web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature” according to Wikipedia. The beta version was launched in late 2004, and now the Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online journals from many of the world’s scholarly publishers.)

Here’s the official Google Blog post, “Finding the laws that govern us,” regarding their new service.

How it works (basically!)

Know how to use Google? You’ve got the concept, then! Go to the Google Scholar home page and select the radio button for Legal opinions and journals. You can search by the names of the parties in a particular case or the type of decision. Not only will Google Scholar return the results for a specific case you are looking into, it will offer links to associated cases for your further research.

While Google’s current offerings don’t match all the features of Lexis yet, it is only a matter of time until we can accomplish all we need to do for FREE.

And that’s the way it should be – information wants to be free.

A postscript on Google

Google is continually coming up with new features. I came across this post on the iPhone J.D. blog, a resource for lawyers who use iPhones (as I do!). Follow this link to a great post on using Google on your iPhone and some speculation on what might be available from Google in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney

Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

E-mail me at [email protected] for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know.

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Experienced Attorney Warns: Protect Your Personal Injury Case By Being Smart About Social Media

Use-social-media-intelligentlyI have written before on the NY Injury Law Blog about the dangers of giving away your privacy online with social media. Sloppy postings on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and other social sites can easily undermine personal injury cases – and believe me, insurance companies are well versed in any techniques to weaken plaintiffs’ cases.

The following guest post from Virginia injury lawyer Ben Glass provides a very clear outlines of the Do’s and Don’ts of using social media for people who want to protect their privacy and their personal injury cases. I’m reprinting it here with Ben’s permission. Here is Ben’s Guest Post:

Warning for Clients About Social Media

FACT – While initially people were quite guarded about what photos they posted online and who has access to them, people are gradually becoming more exhibitionist. Your friends may have photos of you, that can be searched by your name, on their pages. In other words, your own privacy settings cannot protect you entirely.

FACT – The courts have ordered injured plaintiffs to produce their Facebook pages to the insurance company lawyers.

FACT – Evidence from Facebook has been admitted in Ontario Courts and is used by the police and the traditional media.

FACT – Every insurance defense lawyer has a law clerk on Facebook who is looking for their opponents’ pages, profiles and pictures on Facebook.

So, does that mean you have to withdraw from the 21st century and avoid social media? As your lawyer, I would like to say, well, yes. Avoid it like the plague. However, as a human being, I recognize that may not be possible. So, what steps can you take to protect yourself?

Step One: Take a critical eye to your social media sites to see if there is anything you would not want the insurance company lawyer to see. Remember that the insurance company will not know the context of your photos or comments. They won’t know if you swallowed a bottle of pain killers to get through that party.

Step Two: Check your privacy settings. Most sites allow you to block certain people altogether from seeing that you even are on the site. Block the opposing lawyer and his/her clerk. Keep in mind, however, that there will be law students and others whose names you won’t know, so this is not foolproof.

Step Three: Search your name in the search field to see what comes up and make sure it is acceptable.

Step Four: While you are at it, do the same thing on Google and You Tube. Make whatever adjustments are necessary.

Step Five: Don’t accept friend requests or answer emails through social media from people you do now know. On Facebook, if you send a message, you grant the receiver access to your profile for a certain number of days. That is a common device to get access to your profile. Keep in mind that because of the lawsuit process, the opposing legal team knows a lot about you and could send you an email that might make you think you know each other.

If you are in doubt about whether or not your pages are acceptable, speak to your personal injury lawyer about it.

Ben Glass, Virginia personal injury lawyer. Check out Ben’s website, BenGlassLaw.com, for more of his advice about personal injury law and protecting your case.

Thanks for reading,

Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

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Don’t Let Facebook Torpedo Your Client’s Case!

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Social networking sites can sink cases, and attorneys MUST warn clients of the risk.

Consider the numbers:

Those figures will climb just during the time it takes to me to write this post. I haven’t even mentioned – yet – emerging sites such as Wikia, Zimbio, and Multiply.

With membership numbers like those above, and more online communities emerging, the Internet is about making connections, not keeping life confidential.

Personal injury attorneys need to ask clients if they participate in social networking, and caution them about the exposure it may give to their private lives and personal information. Your clients need to understand that information posted online is NOT PRIVATE.

Many people do not realize that if you have a Facebook account, the default privacy settings allow people who live in your region to see your page, EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.

What does this have to do with personal injury law? It is SOP to alert plaintiffs to the possibility that they may be surreptitiously video-taped outside their homes. Have your clients considered if they want EVERYTHING they post online to be viewable by the insurance company’s legal team? OF COURSE NOT!

Plaintiffs in personal injury actions need to know that not only may their public profiles be viewed on such sites, but even private, restricted sites areas could be accessed.

Tell clients to think before they post, or Tweet or update …

An excellent article by Robert S. Kelner and Gail S. Kelner, “Trial Practice Social Networking Sites and Personal Injury Litigation” examines recent decisions about “intrusive adversaries” online. Some of the highpoints of that article are below:

By assuming other personas online, some insurance investigators have made connections with plaintiffs with the sole purpose of gaining access to private information and undermining their case. The Philadelphia Bar Association Guidance Committee called such subterfuge “inherently deceitful” and “unethical.” It is not the same as being monitored outside one’s home – as in the now seemingly quaint practice of video surveillance. Investigators may observe and record in public, but not by trying to pass themselves off as other people.

Legal Challenges to Cyber-Snooping…..

More and more, however, courts are being called upon to determine the access defendants’ legal representatives may have to plaintiffs’ personal information on social networking sites. Some judges have deemed it improper for plaintiffs to be contacted, even openly, in attempts to gain access to their private sites, “Such a request raises tension, familiar in personal injury lawsuits, between plaintiff’s desire to retain some measure of privacy over his personal affairs and defendant’s claim that it is entitled to prove for relevant discovery,” as Kelner and Kelner write.

Although adversaries may not be able to pose as “friends,” there are other means to access information online, and the legal issues become more complex as additional parties become involved.

Defendents’ legal counsel can try to:

  • Contact the company that created or hosts the social networking site to try and access plaintiffs’ details directly.
  • Ask for access to stored communications on the computers of plaintiffs’ connections, i.e. they may seek to obtain copies of e-mails sent to other people.

As a personal injury attorney, I don’t want anything to do with representing dishonest people. The point of this post is to be warn your clients about what they post on so-called “private” social-networking sites. Tell them they need to be totally honest with you, but that it is important to be aware that insurance companies will use EVERY means available to weaken a personal injury case against them.

Thanks for reading,

Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529

mailto:[email protected]
http://www.zifflaw.com

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When Facebook Isn’t a “Friend” to Your Personal Injury Case

facebook-logoYou’re being watched.

At least, you are if you have a Facebook account – as only a bazillion or so people do. And I don’t just mean watched by your Facebook “friends.” You could also be offering your life and habits up to people who don’t have your best interests at heart.

Most people don’t realize this, but if you have a Facebook account, the default privacy settings allow people who live in your region to see your page EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.

What does this have to do with personal injury law? If you have a personal injury case, you might want to be very careful about what you post to Facebook. Stop and consider – do you want everything you post to be viewable by the insurance company’s legal team?

The Facebook flaw

I was made aware of this Facebook issue by a fellow personal injury attorney. A a friend of his who is a defense attorney told him how he had participated in a case where the plaintiff claimed severe mental and physical problems. The plaintiff claimed he: “had no life, cannot do anything, doesn’t go out of the house except to the doctor or to work, is depressed, is physically limited, used to love to dance and play sports and now does neither at all anymore, has not gone outside the state of New York since his accident, etc etc.”

This defense attorney then changed her county of residence on his Facebook profile (Wonder if that was unethical conduct on the part of this lawyer?) so that he could secretly view the plaintiff’s Facebook page without being his “friend” – and lo and behold: There were recent photos of the plaintiff dancing at a wedding and playing soccer last summer. He’d also posted lots of information about his activities and feelings. His case was blown by his own Facebook profile.

This plaintiff was dishonest, and as a personal injury attorney I don’t want anything to do with representing dishonest people. In fact, I tell my clients, I can always deal with the truth but a single lie can kill an otherwise good case.

The point of this post is to be totally honest with your injury lawyer because it is important to be aware that insurance companies will use EVERY means available to weaken your personal injury case.

Check the Privacy settings on your Facebook account (find them under Settings on the right side of the top toolbar). You can fine-tune them to make sure the people you trust get to track your life – NOT the people you don’t.

Thanks for reading,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

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