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$10.5 Million Verdict May Be Lost; Blame the Lawyer, Save the Client?
That seems to be the question at the center of a controversy involving a $10.5 million settlement in a Charlottesville, Virginia (VA), wrongful death truck wreck case. The injury lawyer who represented the victim's husband has resigned from the Virginia state bar after being accused of acting unethically and unprofessionally by advising his client to get rid of Facebook pictures posted to the husband's account that might have been used to try disprove some claims of emotional suffering. The alleged ethics violation involved denying any Facebook pictures existed and withholding copies from the defense team who may have wanted to present the pictures to the court as evidence.
The defense is now seeking to overturn the jury's verdict. Would the "partying" pics, posted many months after his wife's death, even been admissible at trial? Hard to know. I feel that this Facebook issue had nothing to do with the verdict, but the failure to acknowledge and produce the pics is now complicating -- and potentially negating -- recovery by the wife's estate.
What should a person consider before hiring an attorney to represent them in a wrongful death lawsuit? As a Virginia personal injury attorney myself, I would urge any client to look at anattorney's record to see what types of cases he or she has handled and what the outcomes of those cases were. And consider ethics. You want honest advice from a top injury attorney who has earned respect in court over the long haul.
The best Virginia personal injury lawyer to handle your case is someone who has litigated injury and wrongful death claims similar to the one you have and who has secured fair settlements and verdicts for clients.
I also have a message for victims: If you have been in an accident or have suffered some other type of injury, be very careful about how you portray yourself to the public. Certainly, your case is not the only aspect of your life, and you are entitled to continue enjoying other aspects. Problems may arise, however, when you put yourself out there where everyone, including defense attorneys and insurance adjusters, can see you in lights that reflects badly. Be assured that defense lawyers will will do their best to find all publicly available MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog and other online information that can use to discredit you.