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Firefighter Attorneys Urge Caution When Using Social Media

September 17, 2015 | Dominique A. Penson

Recently, a storm of controversy arose surrounding racially provocative social media comments by the president of United Women’s Firefighters. Critics charge that Sarinya Srisakul’s remarks violate the FDNY’s social media policy, which prohibits postings that bring disrepute upon the Department. But an FDNY spokesperson would only say that Srisakul’s post is “under review.”

The FDNY went through a similar controversy in 2013, when the Fire Commissioner’s own son, an EMT, had to resign for racist tweets, and another probationary firefighter faced discipline for vulgar language and sexually suggestive photos. The latter case came with a fine amounting to three month’s pay.

The FDNY has a legitimate interest in monitoring firefighters’ social media posts which could cause dissension in the ranks and rifts with the communities the Department serves. As attorneys who represent firefighters in a variety of cases, we have an additional reason to urge restraint when using social media: you could compromise your case.

Our personal injury lawyers urge you to be prudent about what you post and always make your social media accounts private. Remember that the pictures and videos you post could give a distorted view of the facts. Imagine, for instance, that you’re in litigation over a disabling knee injury. You’ve gone through surgery and months of painful rehab, but you haven’t posted any pictures of your face contorted in agony as you try to bend your knee beyond 90 degrees. But, at your daughter’s wedding, you take enough pain killers to walk her down the aisle and perform the obligatory two-minute father-daughter dance. That video (not the one of you icing your painful knee afterwards) is the one you proudly post. The next day, opposing counsel has it and uses it to suggest you are lying when you claim your bad knee prevents you from going dancing with your wife.

Please remember, a social media post is a public statement that stays on the record forever. It usually presents, at best, an incomplete picture of reality (somehow, almost everybody has a perfect life on Facebook). The statements, images, and videos you post can be taken out of context, and can irreparably harm any cause of action you have against a negligent party. To understand more about how a social media post could impact your case, consult an experienced injury attorney at Barasch & McGarry, P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call [ln::phone] or contact our NYC office online.

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