Dominique Sharpton, daughter of American civil rights activist Al Sharpton, has come under fire after a number of social media posts emerged showing her hiking, dancing in high heels and traveling to Miami. None of this would likely be noteworthy to the public, except for the fact that almost two years ago, she suffered a personal injury in a trip-and-fall accident on the streets of New York City.
Sharpton has insisted the pictures do not show the whole picture. And of course, she’s probably right. The fact is, what we post on social media doesn’t give a full and accurate view of our entire lives, particularly our emotional suffering or our physical pain. Nonetheless, defendants in personal injury cases will be quick to scour these accounts for any sliver of information that might contradict the injury claims made by the plaintiff.
In Sharpton’s case, she says the heels she could wear only for a very short time. That hiking trip? She had to stop numerous times and received a great deal of help from friends. She doubted whether she would make it to the top.
Our Orlando premises liability lawyers understand that the original claim stems from a 2014 trip-and-fall after she reportedly stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk. Sharpton would later say in a deposition that she immediately heard a “snap.” She visited the emergency room that same day. Although there were no broken bones, she did require physical therapy and some time in a therapeutic boot for a torn ligament. When those did not resolve the problem, she underwent ligament surgery.
She later filed a lawsuit against the city for $5 million, seeking recovery of medical bills, lost wages and future expenses.
However, when her Instagram photographs emerged, showing her happy and smiling, a torrent of criticism followed – much of it driven by disdain for her father in this highly-charged political season. Nonetheless, it feeds into the long-standing (and erroneous) belief that it’s somehow easy to collect damages in a slip-and-fall lawsuit and that plaintiffs routinely lie about or exaggerate their injuries.
The reality is that what is posted on Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms tells a story, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Still, most personal injury lawyers will advise plaintiffs to keep their activity on these accounts to a minimum while the case is pending because the seemingly smallest entry – a quick status or a single photo – could have a profound impact on your case.
Take for example the case of a woman who was seriously injured in 2003 while sitting at her office desk when suddenly her office chair collapsed. The result was a serious back injury. She later sued the manufacturer of the chair, alleging the product had been defective. In her claim, she stated she’d largely been confined to her home and suffered loss of life enjoyment. But then defense lawyers in the case found a single photo – her Facebook profile picture. In it, she was standing outside her home. She was smiling. Defendants then asked the court for access to her account, which had been set to “private.” The court acquiesced and defendants began looking for more “smiles.”
Again, a single photo of a person standing outside smiling certainly doesn’t tell the tale of what happens on a daily or hourly basis, but it can be a powerful tool for the defense to refute your claims.
If you are debating filing a personal injury lawsuit, refrain from discussing the situation on social media and talk with an experienced injury lawyer.
If you have been injured in Orlando, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Sharpton’s daughter could be doomed by past personal injury suit, Sept. 27, 2016, By Julia Marsh and Emily Saul, New York Post
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Car Seat Manufacturer to Face Florida Child Injury Lawsuit in 2017, Sept. 24, 2016, Orlando Injury Attorney Blog