Facebook plays a growing role in many personal injury cases
Social media is being used by more defence lawyers as a way of undermining personal injury claims.
Facebook and other social media platforms are playing a decisive factor in a growing number of personal injury cases. As Global News reports, insurers and defence teams are increasingly analyzing data from plaintiffs’ social media accounts as a way of challenging those plaintiffs’ claims. Evidence that is taken from social media has the potential to destroy a claimant’s case, which is why anybody who is making a personal injury claim needs to be aware of the risks involved with posting anything online and how to best protect against those risks.
Why social media matters in lawsuits
Trying to undermine and challenge a plaintiff’s injury claim is something that insurers and defence lawyers have always done. However, social media has made their jobs much easier in recent years. Instead of having to hire private investigators to follow claimants and provide proof that the claimant may have exaggerated his or her claim – a process that can take months, is expensive, and provides no guarantee of results – nowadays defence lawyers need only go onto that claimant’s Facebook account for photos that could prove extremely damaging to that claimant’s case.
For example, as the National Post reports, in one British Columbia case in 2015 a woman’s personal injury claim was mostly rejected by the judge after the defence submitted photos from the claimant’s Facebook account showing her going out for numerous social events. Those photos, according to the judge, contradicted the claimant’s statement that injuries stemming from two car accidents had left her depressed and isolated.
How courts are dealing with the challenge
That’s not to say that all photos taken from social media accounts will necessarily damage a claimant’s case. Courts are still struggling to work out how much weight evidence taken from social media should be given. After all, as most people who use social media know, such sites don’t always provide an accurate representation of how well a person is doing mentally or physically. One U.S. study found that there is a danger that judges and juries could give too much weight to “happy” photos on Facebook, for example, without considering the number of unhappy moments a claimant experienced but chose not to share online.
The best thing that anybody making a claim can do is to simply stay off of social media outright. Even increasing one’s privacy settings are no guarantee that photos and posts that one doesn’t want in a courtroom could end up in the defence’s hands. Rather than risk a single picture being misinterpreted by the court, it is often safer for claimants to keep such photos from getting out into the world in the first place.
Personal injury law
Those who have been injured, such as in an accident or because of a defective product, should contact ROCHON | GENOVA LLP immediately. The experienced lawyers at Rochon Genova can help you pursue whatever compensation you may be entitled to and advise you on ways to maximize the chances of your case succeeding.