Personal Injury: Facebook, Google, Defamation and You | BPC Law Blog

Very little of the average Sydneysider’s life isn’t on Facebook or Google. Most of the time, there’s no problem with this, but there are crucial times when you need to be extremely careful what people can find on the internet about you, including what you put out there. You’ve probably heard that when you’re applying for jobs you need to be careful about what’s on your Facebook page, but you might not know that what you post on Facebook can land you in deep water. Any lawyer will tell you that Facebook and Google can be your worst enemies as they can lead you to be sued for defamation and personal injury.

Personal Injury (image source: shutterstock)

You might remember late last year a case where an Australian man sued Google for defamation. The details of the case that were released to press revealed that the unnamed man had been shunned and treated differently as a result of his photo appearing alongside gangland figures like Toby Mokbel, as well as a Google search for his name bringing up results relating to an unsolved shooting in 2004.

Google argued hard that they had not published the photos, they were merely the conduit for those photos to be published. They claimed that because their search engine is based off algorithms that trawl the Internet, there’s no way that they could control what content appeared or where.

However, the court found themselves in favour of the unnamed man whose reputation had been ruined as a result of the Google search results, and he’d even been made to feel unwanted in his migrant community. Google was made to pay damages of $200,000 to the man. This compensation came after the same man won a similar case against Yahoo!, who had to pay the man $225,000 in damages. Despite the large sums of cash awarded to the man, he claims that the cases weren’t about money, but instead protecting his family, particularly his children, and his reputation.

Of course, if you do become involved in a defamation case, it’s highly unlikely that it will be on such a large scale. Every day there are smaller, but no less important, cases regarding defamation moving through courts around Australia. The average Australian is more likely to become involved in a defamation case related to content posted to Facebook or Twitter.

It can feel really good to send out a tweet or post on Facebook ripping into someone as an act of revenge. Maybe they broke up with you, insulted your mother, or trashed your car. Your anger then becomes the latest viral fad on the Internet. Posts like that can severely damage a person’s reputation, the people who know the subject of your tweet may begin to treat them differently, even teasing or bullying them. They might miss out on a promotion because it’s not the image the company wants associated with them. And with that a simple Facebook post, written in a moment of rage, can land you in court being sued for defamation.

personal injury(image source: shutterstock)

When you log back into Facebook or Twitter after a few days and you start to worry that maybe what you wrote really could be defamatory, there are a few things you can do to set the record straight. Firstly, remove the material, so delete the posts or tweets. Next, if the person you attacked claims they’ve been defamed you can, within 28 days, write a written letter of apology that includes an offer to publish a reasonable correction (i.e. “What I said was wrong”), and an offer to pay any expenses that person has encountered as a result of the material at the time of your offer (so they can’t keep asking you for money after the offer has been given). If you’re lucky, your offers will be accepted and the matter will end there. Otherwise you’ll be in court, but having apologised and attempted to make amends, you at least have some good standing.

Defamation is a serious matter as it can have serious consequences to the people involved, not just the victim, but also the defamer. Being found guilty of defamation can suggest to those around you that you lack emotional maturity, or you’re unable to solve a conflict in an adult manner.

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Personal Injury: How Important is CCTV Footage When it Comes to Claims of Police Brutality? | BPC Law Blog

It can be hard to believe that claims of police brutality aren’t just works of fiction created by drunk young men stumbling about Sydney’s Kings Cross at night. But, from time to time, these allegations turn out to be true. It’s an awful feeling to discover that the hands of the people we place our safety, and ultimately our lives, could be so cruel, but it does happen. At times like these, it’s important to remember that CCTV cameras are everywhere these days, and any personal injury lawyer will tell you that CCTV footage is very hard evidence to discredit. So how does CCTV footage come into play in cases of police brutality?

Pesonal Injury

In March this year, questions of police brutality in Sydney emerged after footage of Jamie Jackson being arrested at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras worked its way around the media. These questions were discussed on the ABC’s Radio National Law Report program.

The footage shows a young man who is handcuffed being roughly forced to the ground. In the footage a police officer can be heard telling the filmer that they can’t film as it’s not allowed. For a start, that’s completely untrue. Secondly, it suggests that either the police officer is unsure of what he’s doing himself, or that he’s aware that he’s overstepped the mark in terms of just measures of restraint. But the Mardi Gras incident is not a stand-alone occurrence.

It’s a common thing around the world for people to use video evidence as a means of proving police brutality. If the footage is clear enough, and the context is right, it can be almost impossible to say that the incident didn’t happen the way it appeared to on film. And the police force is aware of it, some members of the police will even go so far as to distract members of the public who are filming incidents and turn their attention away from the potentially illegal misuse of force.

One disturbing case of this distraction technique to the extreme was that of Corey Barker. Barker spent a over year being wrongly accused of assaulting a police officer. The truth of the matter was that Barker had seen some police officers arresting someone, so he took out a mobile phone and began to film it. A police officer came from another direction and tackled Barker to the ground. He was taken to a police station where he was asked to unlock the phone so the police could find out if there was any footage of what had gone on. Barker refused to do so, and he was abused, punched and kicked.

In normal circumstances, Barker wouldn’t have had to front to court on charges of assault as the CCTV cameras in the police station would have clearly shown that he was the victim of assault, not the other way around. However, disturbingly, the footage from those CCTV cameras was tampered with, and it was a huge effort for both the defence team and the court to have the footage repaired. Of course, Barker was found to be telling the truth.

Worryingly, when in court, the police officers questioned all told the same story of Barker punching a member of the police force. They were very neat in the way that they all described the punch in the same way. When combined with the fact that someone or some people had removed the CCTV footage, there was a very obvious case of the police trying to cover up their wrongs.

 

In the end, the case against Barker was dismissed and the whole affair was referred to the Police Integrity Commission, thanks to the lengths these officers went to hide their guilt. Two officers narrowly avoided also being found in contempt of court.

It’s interesting to note that it was the CCTV footage that saved Barker from a charge of assaulting police, as the CCTV camera provides a very neutral context. It wasn’t being directed by anybody, so it wasn’t only capturing the images and sounds a particular person wanted to be seen. Perhaps if a person had filmed it, for instance a friend of Barker, they would have focused on the wounds they the police officers inflicted, or the pain coming across Barker’s face. Or if it’d been another officer filming, they would have only filmed Barker’s refusal to show the footage he’d recorded on his phone, and tried to suggest that Barker was the one refusing to cooperate and therefore the ‘bad guy’.

If you can take anything away from these two incidents and the questions they bring up, it’s that video evidence, particularly CCTV footage, is extremely hard to not only discredit but to remove from the court entirely. No matter what is argued, there’s still a video saying what really went on.

Personal Injury: How Safe are E-Cigarettes | BPC Law Blog

We’ve known for decades that cigarettes are deadly and can cause so much damage to your body. In a move to help smokers quit, e-cigarettes have become extremely popular. However, many Sydney lawyers are wondering if they’ll be approached by smokers who want to sue the manufacturers of e-cigarettes for personal injury. So how safe are e-cigarettes, and are they just as bad as the real thing?

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An e-cigarette

E-cigarettes are a relatively new invention, and like all new things, we don’t know an awful lot about the long-term effects of replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes, or personal vapourisers as they’re also known. What we do know is some of the short-term benefits for smokers switching to e-cigarettes.

One of the main selling points of the e-cigarette is that it’s got a high success rate in getting long-time smokers to quit smoking cigarettes. The traditional e-cigarette works by evaporating a special liquid so that it becomes a nicotine vapour. When you smoke an e-cigarette, you inhale the nicotine vapour and receive the same effect that you would from a normal cigarette without the bad side-effects like lung damage and cancer. But it can’t all be good, can it?

Unfortunately, in terms of using the e-cigarette as a part of an arsenal to help smokers quit, Australia is very far behind other countries like the UK. In Australia, e-cigarette or personal vapouriser devices are sold freely, but they aren’t classed as a therapeutic good. More worryingly is the fact that the devices have no real benefit for smokers without the nicotine solution, and as nicotine is classed as a poison in Australia, there’s nowhere to buy it except overseas from less than reputable sources.

This means that the real danger of the e-cigarette is not the device itself or it’s intended use but the nicotine solution inside. If the solution is created and handled properly there’s no concern, but without regulations and legislation to allow it to be created in Australia, e-cigarette smokers are having to put themselves at risk to quit traditional tobacco smoking by using an e-cigarette with a nicotine solution that’s not up to code.

Personal Injury Lawyers: Decoding the AVO? | BPC Law Blog

It’s an unfortunate part of being a personal injury lawyer in Sydney, but I do see my fair share of victims of domestic violence. These people often feel helpless and it’s up to me to give them a hand. One of the first steps I, and any other lawyers, will do is to suggest an AVO – an Apprehended Violence Order. I realise that not everyone is familiar with what an AVO is so hopefully this blog will clear things up.

Personal Injury Lawyers: Decoding the AVO? | BPC Law Blog

Let’s start off with the basics. When you choose to place an AVO against someone it’s because that person makes you fear for your safety because they may be harassing, assaulting, or intimidating you. That AVO will ban the person from harassing, threatening, stalking, intimidating, or assaulting you. Of course, no case is ever the same, so other conditions can be included, which I’ll get into later. Now you know what an AVO does, we’ll get into some of the finer details.

There are actually two types of AVOs: ADVO (Apprehended Domestic Violence Order) and APVO (Apprehended Personal Violence Order). The big difference between these AVOs is the relationship between the two people involved.

ADVO: This type of AVO focuses on the people involved being related to each other, or they are living together, or they are or have been in an intimate relationship. Of course, there are other guidelines as well. If you are Indigenous then it also applies to shared kinship, or the extended family of the other person involved. Also, if you have been in a relationship with the other person that revolves around dependent care (e.g. one of you is a paid carer, or you live in the same residential facility).

APVO: An APVO is one that you’re more likely to associate with newspaper cases about sexual harassment, but it does cover the same grounds as an ADVO. The difference between and APVO and ADVO is that where the ADVO involved close or family relationships, the APVO is for people who aren’t related and haven’t had any sort of close relationships. So an APVO would cover things like neighbours or work colleagues making you fear for your safety.

So now you know what sort of AVO you’re looking for, how do you go about applying for one?

You have two choices in getting an AVO out against someone. Firstly, you can go to the police, and they can make the application for you. Secondly, you can approach your local court and apply by yourself. If you choose the second option, you’ll need to look at hiring a lawyer. However, if you choose to go through the police, the Police Prosecutor will help you.

Personal Injury Lawyers: Decoding the AVO? | BPC Law Blog

But what about those extra conditions mentioned earlier?

The basic idea of an AVO is to keep you safe, so sometimes extra conditions need to be made. Some of the more common ones include stopping the person from approaching you or places where you live, work, or go to (a more specific version of this condition is that they can’t approach you or the places you go if they have been drinking or taking illegal drugs), and damaging your property. Of course, as I said earlier, no case is the same, so other conditions can be made as well. But what happens if the person breaks these conditions?

If the person who you took the AVO out against breaks one of the conditions (e.g. you find they’ve been stalking you), because an AVO is a court order they can be charged with a criminal offence. It’s important that if the person does breach any of these conditions that you tell the police as soon as possible. It’s for your own safety.

Now, though an AVO may be made by the court that doesn’t mean that it is set in stone or that it is going to last forever. As a general rule of thumb, an AVO will only last for a certain amount of time but you can ask for an extension before this time is up if you are still fearful of the other person. Also, the Court realises that things can change, so if your circumstances change and you decide that you want to rewrite some of the conditions of the order, or you even want to have it completely cancelled this can be done. However, it’s important to remember that if there are any children involved with the AVO, only the police can apply for it to be changed or cancelled, but if children aren’t a concern, you just need to speak to the Local Court again.

Hopefully this has made everything regarding AVOs crystal-clear for you, and if you find yourself a victim of domestic violence remember that the law is here to protect you – there is nothing more important than your safety.

Instances of Personal Injury

The term ‘personal injury’ appears in newspapers and TV reports a lot these days, but what are they actually talking about? Personal injury lawyers work with people who believe that they have been injured due to the actions of someone else, so personal injury is when you are hurt (physically, mentally, or emotionally) but the blame rests with someone else. These are a few instances of personal injuries and any specific areas of expertise your personal injury lawyer should have:

  • Transport accident (this includes cars, motorbikes, trains, and ferries)
  • At work or due to work (cases like these will go through WorkCover or you can speak to a workers compensation lawyer)
  • Because of a medical treatment (e.g. something goes wrong in an operation, and you weren’t warned it could happen. A medical negligence lawyer is who you want to look for in this instance)
  • On public or private property (depending on which one it is, you will need to look at finding a lawyer who knows about Occupiers or Public Liability)
  • Using a faulty product (this falls under Product Liability)
  • Because of a criminal act (you’ll need to look at Victims of Crime compensation)
  • Workplace discrimination (this includes unfair dismissals)
  • Sexual abuse or harassment
  • Because of some other unmentioned professional services (this is professional negligence)image01

Chances are that the personal injury that you want to claim for is somewhere in that list. Once you’ve identified exactly what category your personal injury falls under, the next step is to find the right lawyer, for instance you don’t want to choose a medical negligence lawyer when your problem is one to do with workers compensation. When you do choose a personal injury lawyer for your claim, remember to bring as much information about your injuries as possible, whether its medical reports, photos, or witness statements. The last thing you want is for your claim to be unsuccessful because you didn’t provide enough evidence.

If you’re looking for personal injury lawyers in Sydney, call BPC Lawyers on (02) 8355 4002 or enquire online at http://www.bpclaw.com.au.

Things to Bring to a Personal Injury Lawyer

There are many personal injury lawyers available. They have studied and worked extremely hard to get where they are so that they can help you get compensation for your injuries, whether they are physical, psychological, or emotional. To show a personal injury lawyer respect and so that you don’t waste your time or theirs, it’s important that you have all the relevant information and material for your claim at your fingertips. So what should you have ready for when you go see a personal injury lawyer?

  • Specific details about how the accident occurred (in dot point form so it is easy to read through)
  • Photographs of the accident scene if you can easily and safely get theseimage02
  • Any relevant medical reports (e.g. if it was a car accident and you were treated for whiplash)
  • Receipts for out of pocket expenses including things like crutches, GP gap payments, and medication
  • A travel log of all the travel time related to appointments for your injuries
  • The details of all the doctors you are seeing in relation to the accident
  • Details of how your life has been affected due to your injuries (e.g. a list of things around the house that you cannot do)
  • If you have made a claim, the details of the insurance officer handling it
  • If it was a car accident, the details of your car registration and any other vehicles involved
  • The details of any witnesses to the accident
  • Accounts of what was said at the time

It can seem like a lot to get a hold of, especially if you are recovering from a painful injury, but by having all this information handy you will save yourself time and money, as well as showing any personal injury lawyers you choose to see that you are serious about your claim.

If you are interested in personal injury lawyers in Sydney, call BPC Lawyers on (02) 8355 4003, or enquire online at http://www.bpclaw.com.au.