Digital and Metadata Evidence is Often Used in Personal Injury Trials

“Anything you do or say may be used against you in the court of law,” writes Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) President Maia Bent in an article for the Huffington Post. “Increasingly, this includes what you may have shared online.”

North Americans (and, realistically, everybody all over the world) use social media and email a great deal. Digital means of communication have revolutionized the way we interact with one another, receive news, and generally share experiences. Social media has shrunk the world to an astonishing degree, pushing us further along the path to a cooperative global economy. But, as injury lawyers like Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers in Toronto will tell you, there are downsides to being active on social media as well. One of those downsides is the possibility that your activity can be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit.

As Maia Bent writes:

Over the last few years, as sharing of personal information on social media has become more ubiquitous, many personal injury cases in Ontario are being decided on evidence gathered from plaintiffs’ social media accounts, which provide ‘metadata’ creating a time and location stamp of a user’s online activity. And it’s all admissible as evidence in court.

Crucial to the admission of this kind of evidence is what social media now represents — a public forum where users openly share details of their private lives and personal opinions. Once a comment, status update, tweet or photo is posted, it has gone public and it never really goes away, even after you hide or delete it.

Whether the defendant is an employer fighting a case of wrongful dismissal or an insurance company denying an injury claim, they will often turn to their search engines and monitor a plaintiff’s social media activity, cross-referencing the details of their legal claims with the content and timing of their online activity to invalidate or refute them. This is particularly the case if posts are made during a court proceeding.

As such, the lawyers at Neinstein & Associates would most likely insist that you try to avoid social media if you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit.

The reality of digital media being used in civil trials is not entirely new, though. As far back as 2011, as the CourtHouseLibrary.ca tells us, a case in BC was decided on the basis of digital evidence:

Digital information can be particularly important in personal injury cases.  In the recent British Columbia case of Abougoush v. Sauve, 2011 BCSC 885, Mr. Justice Rodgers ordered the plaintiff, who was advancing a claim for physical injuries arising out of a car accident, to disclose to the defendant the photographs of her recent vacations, including metadata (i.e. the embedded data in a digital file that may include information on who authored a document, when it was created, the software used, etc.), as “the metadata may be relevant to the plaintiff’s ability to, for example, be active throughout a given day and then go walking on the beach in the evening, or it may be relevant to the plaintiff’s ability to spend an evening at a nightclub until some given hour, and then tolerate swimming the next morning” (at paragraph 11).

If you’ve been injured in an accident, a good personal injury lawyer like those at Neinstein and Associates will advise you to avoid social media, or to carefully curate what you are posting. Contact Neinstein and Associates for more information.  Another example of a personal injury case being decided thanks to social media evidence is detailed in the video below:

Scheduling Institute by Jay Geier

The Scheduling Institute is a private company founded by Jay Geier in 1997. Its primary goal is to teach practice growth strategies to the dentist all over the world. Today, the Scheduling Institute is the largest dental consulting firm in the world. Geier and his team offer training, seminar, and coaching events to over 2,000 medical practices.

The core of the Scheduling Institute

The Scheduling Institute teaches medical practices such as effectively answering telephone calls. Over the years, the company has diversified its services and now providing more than 26 kinds of in-office training programs and coaching events. The inspiration behind the Scheduling Institute was Geier’s experiences working in a huge private practice in Georgia. He established the Scheduling Institute concepts and spent the next few years perfecting the ideas. The Scheduling Institute system becomes successful and has generated hundreds of clients within a week.

The Scheduling Institute now has several offices all over the country. The very first headquarter in Roswell, Georgia. It is quite small and can only accommodate a few people. Eight years later, the company moved to a bigger location and finally in 2011; the company moved to Alpharetta, Georgia. Scheduling Institute has in-house fulfillment center and in 2007, it successfully introduced its very first coaching program. The coaching program consists of workshops, training, and coaching sessions. A lot of people participated in the said event and majority of them are flying from out of the town. The very first training center in downtown Atlanta was acquired in 2010. Three years later, the company had its second training center situated in Phoenix.

There are several topics included in the coaching program, and some of them are case acceptance, patient experience, marketing, team building, and a whole lot more. As the company diversifies its services, its scope of the client also widens. It is now serving more than 50 states in the United States and various countries all over the world like England, Ireland, Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand, and Latvia. As of May 2015, the company hits its 10,000 onsite training program.

How to deal with a construction site injury

Construction workers are some of the hardest working members of our society. They play a crucial role in ensuring that the transportation, water and wastewater, power, and healthcare infrastructure which keeps businesses and people moving is functioning as it should be. They keep our office buildings, apartments, and schools standing and strong.

Unfortunately, the work involved in maintaining the state of the country’s infrastructure often carries risks, and as such manual labourers will sometimes suffer personal injury on the job. Neinstein & Associates’ personal injury lawyers can help construction workers assess their potential compensation, and prompt and effective treatment at a hospital can reduce the extent of the injuries.

The following infographic provides a snapshot of the extent of the worksite injury problem in the United States:

Construction Accidents: The Risks, the Facts, the Repercussions – An Infographic from Wilson Kehoe Winingham

Embedded from Wilson Kehoe Winingham

Writing for the Personal Injury Law Journal, Stephen M. Di Stefano described a recent case where a 20-year old construction worker fell 20 feet from the roof of a construction site, suffering numerous sever injuries. The case highlights how civil law suits can sometimes help injury victims cope with their losses:

The construction worker sued the building’s owner and the general contractor on the construction project. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated a state law that governs elevation-related hazards. He further alleged that the roof lacked a safe anchor point where he could tie of his harness and that the defendants failed to provide any other kind of safety equipment. The defendants brought into the case the plaintiff’s employer and two related entities. The building owner and general contractor argued that the plaintiff’s employer and the two related entities directed and controlled the work that was being done at the construction site. The defendants denied that the plaintiff suffered permanent cognitive impairments or was permanently disabled from working.

The case proceeded to trial and the jury found that the building owner and the general contractor were liable. A second jury then awarded $62 million, including $42 million for future pain and suffering and $20 million for past pain and suffering. Before the trial, the parties agreed that the plaintiff’s past medical expenses totaled about $60,100. After the jury’s verdict, the judge added the $60,100 to the jury’s award. The total award to the plaintiff was approximately $62.06 million. An appeal is pending.

While American damages often total more than in Canada, a recent case out of Toronto yielded an interesting criminal conviction. CBC News reports:

Construction project manager Vadim Kazenelson has been sentenced to 3½ years in prison for his role in a scaffolding collapse at a Toronto apartment building that left four workers dead on Christmas Eve 2009.

The Ontario Superior Court found Kazenelson, 40, guilty in June 2015 of four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

During sentencing on Monday, Judge Ian MacDonnell said he needed to impose a “significant term” on Kazenelson to make it clear to others that they have a “serious obligation” to ensure the safety of workers.

He said Kazenelson was aware that five of his workers were not wearing safety harnesses, but still allowed them to board a swing stage 13 storeys high. It collapsed, causing the men to plummet to the ground.

Luckily, most construction firms have rigorous safety standards and effective training regimes. Construction workers who are injured on the worksite can enlist the help of personal injury lawyers like Neinstein & Associates should the unthinkable happen.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

If you live in a big city, chances are you’re familiar with the e-cigarette phenomenon. They are ubiquitous outside downtown bars and clubs, and murky smoking laws mean some enthusiasts will even bring them in to movie theatres or restaurants. They are seen as a hip, hi-tech alternative to cigarettes, and are in some quarters considered less harmful to your health.

However, as both healthcare professionals and Toronto-based personal injury lawyers Neinstein & Associates know, the credibility of health claims surrounding e-cigarettes is dangerous and has been debunked at several turns. Part of the reason the idea that e-cigarettes are safer is their growing allure to young people and smokers looking to quite.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the stark photo below to warn parents of e-cigarettes allure over their children:

Photo courtesy the www.CDC.gov
Photo courtesy the www.CDC.gov

As Domenic B Sanginiti, Jr. wrote in a November blog post, e-cigarettes are tempting for adults as well as kids. “There’s a certain lure involved with the E-cigarettes,” he writes, before detailing why they should not be considered safer:

You shouldn’t believe this “safer” reasoning, however—that’s what the E-Cigarette companies want you to believe, but new evidence suggests otherwise.

In fact, the safety of an E-Cigarette was recently questioned in a civil lawsuit in California. While headed to the airport with her husband, Mrs. Jennifer Ries made the decision to charge her E-Cigrette via the USB port in her vehicle. While it was charging, Mrs. Ries observed a liquid dripping from the battery, and stated that it smelled like nail polish remover. She claimed that, without further warning, the E-cigarette battery exploded, and caused chemicals from the battery to land on her skin. As a result, she suffered from second degree burns to her legs, buttocks, and hands. These burns also resulted in permanent scars to her body.

Another potential personal injury case involving e-cigarettes involved a truck driver who crashed into a highway guardrail in Indiana. WHAS11.com covered the story:

It took just under three hours’ worth of clean-up to remove a semi that crashed on I-65 North in Indiana near the Jackson-Scott County line.

Indiana State troopers say the cause is an e-cigarette the driver was using that exploded in his face. No one else was hurt.

“The truck went onto the shoulder then ultimately struck a guardrail before coming to a stop,” Sgt. Stephen Wheeles said.

Wheeles says the driver, Christian Starasinich was hurt which he calls the crash a rare one.

“His injuries are primarily from the device exploding in his hand and not from the crash itself. I personally have not heard of an instance like this where someone was injured by one and it possibly caused a crash,” he said.

While e-cigarette injuries are at this point quite rare, a personal injury lawyer like those working at Neinstein & Associates in Toronto can help you assess your options in the unlikely event that you suffer one. The bigger issue around e-cigarettes is the controversial idea that they are less harmful to smokers’ health than regular cigarettes. Widely spreading this message could lead to more young people taking up smoking.

Severe Burns Continue To Be A Common Form Of Personal Injury

Personal injury lawsuits are often categorized into ’causes’ and ‘types’ of injury. For instance, car accidents or medical errors are causes of personal injuries, while a spinal fracture is a type of injury. One of the more common types of injuries are those caused by burns. Serious burns can be some of the most painful injuries a person can experience, and in some cases can result in blindness, amputation and other lasting disabilities.

The infographic below provides a clear idea of the prevalence of burn injuries in the United States alone, as well as some of the implications linked to burn injuries:

Burn Injuries

From Visually.

A personal injury law firm like Neinstein & Associates can help you assess possible compensation for your injury, and can also take care of legal issues while you focus on your recovery, which can be a long and uncomfortable process.

As the Personal Injury Law Journal notes, serious burns can impact a person’s life in a number of ways:

One of the obvious results of a severe burn injury is physical pain and discomfort. Depending on the severity of the burn, physical pain can continue for weeks, months, and in some cases, for the rest of a person’s life. Physical pain can impact many aspects of a burn victim’s life. The pain can severely limit a person’s ability to work, to sleep, and to do everyday activities. Many burn victims report the pain and anger associated with constant itching as the worst part of the recovery process.

Physical pain can also have secondary effects. For instance, ongoing pain can affect a person’s mood, leading to depression and anxiety. Pain can hamper the healing process, as well. It can inhibit a person’s ability to perform rehabilitation exercises and lead to loss of range of motion.

While burn injuries are fairly common among all demographics, children are at particular risk. Their curiosity often leads them into dangerous situations and makes them more susceptible to injury.

A report from the World Health Organization makes this clear, while offering some insight into advances being made to protect people from burns:

Children are naturally curious. As soon as they are mobile, they begin to explore their surroundings and play with new objects. In this way, they acquire the skills they need to survive in the world. At the same time, though, they come into contact with objects that can cause severe injuries. Playing with fire or touching hot objects can result in burns. This is a debilitating condition accompanied by intense pain and often by longer-term illness that creates suffering not only for the child but for the wider family and community. Fortunately, the prevention, acute care and rehabilitation of burns have improved greatly over the past few decades. There is now ample evidence that a number of measures are effective in preventing burns. These include the introduction and enforcement of items such as smoke alarms, residential sprinklers and fire-safe lighters, and laws regulating the temperature of hot-water taps.

Despite advances in safety mechanisms around the world, burn injuries will continue to be a common and severe form of personal injury. If you have suffered from a burn injury through no fault of your own, you should immediately contact a personal injury lawyer like Neinstein & Associates to explore the possibility of receiving compensation.