Toronto, Ontario – December 22, 2015 – Pace Law Firm has long warned of the dangers of social media to personal injury claims. More and more insurance companies and defence lawyers are looking at the social media channels – such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube – of people involved in lawsuits to see if they can find evidence in pictures, videos and words that will contradict their claims.
Recent news stories confirm that social media used in this way is becoming far more common. Earlier this year, the National Post reported the case of a young woman from Squamish, British Columbia, who insisted she was depressed, unhappy and isolated because of two car accidents (Source: Evidence found on social media increasingly deciding factor in personal injury cases).
Her claim for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages was largely rejected by a B.C. Supreme Court judge, because of problems found with the woman’s credibility. The defence offered evidence that included hours of video surveillance and 194 pages from the woman’s Facebook account, showing her in social settings that included drinking and river tubing with friends, attending costume parties and performing at a karaoke competition. These activities seemed at odds with someone who was depressed and isolated.
People conducting personal injury lawsuits are frequently required to turn over their medical, employment and social media records. “Under the civil litigation rules of Ontario, any document that is relevant to a claim must be handed over to the other side for examination,” explains Pace serious injury lawyer Nancy Young. “Lawyers must certify in writing that they have explained this obligation to their clients early on in the proceedings. Extending this obligation to social media, a claimant has a duty to produce any posts or photographs on their account that are relevant to their claim.”
Of course, we should also ask ourselves, how reliable are the posts that people are putting up? Many who use social media try to portray themselves in a positive light – to look happier, more successful and popular than they really are. It’s quite possible for a social media user to be depressed and miserable as they tell the world what a wonderful life they are having.
If involved in a personal injury lawsuit, the best course of action is not to find yourself in a position where you must explain a post that seems to contradict your claim. Also, even though many social media sites have adjustable privacy settings, you should not rely on these. There are always ways for defence lawyers and insurance companies to find their ways around these safety features.
“If you are going to use your social media accounts, you and your friends are wise not to discuss anything involving your personal injury case, or anything that could be taken the wrong way and used against you,” says Al Pace, founder and principal of Pace Law Firm. “In fact, it’s probably best for your case if you didn’t use social media at all.”
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