How Social Media Can Affect Your Claim
Updating your various social media accounts probably forms a part of your everyday routine and, by now is second nature. It’s a great way to keep family members and friends updated with the happenings in your life. So, how is it possible that it can affect a potential personal injury claim?
Well, it can. And it can be detrimental to both an insurance claim and litigation. In fact, updating your social media pages with information about your personal injury can result in you receiving no compensation at all.
Below we take a look at the impact social media has on personal injury claims. We’ll also cover best practices for social media use during a personal injury case. This will help you manage the information you put out onto public platforms so as not to jeopardize your personal injury claim.
How Social Media Is Impacting Personal Injury Law
Before 2011, using social media posts and pages as evidence in court was extremely rare. However, the case of Ottenhof v Ross was our first glimpse at the use of social media content in a court of law.
This case provided a court order stating that the pages of social media accounts must be included for the purposes of discovery if applicable.
The court in this case further held that if the social media page is an object of discovery then social media users must preserve the content like any other piece of evidence.
As a result, it is now common practice for the lower courts and the Ontario Superior Court to consider the contents of a social media account in a personal injury claim.
How Insurance Companies Use Social Media In Personal Injury Claims
Insurance companies carry out thorough investigations when it comes to the payout of a personal injury case. This includes hiring a private investigator and assessing your social media activity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media accounts.
This is often done in an attempt to discredit your insurance claim. By accessing your social media posts, an insurance company tries to find evidence (like photos and comments) that may raise doubt as to whether your claim is legitimate.
For example, say you put in a personal injury claim with your insurance company for pain and suffering due to limited mobility. To succeed in your claim, you would have to produce information to show that your quality of life has decreased.
This information would show that you may not be able to do the activities with friends and family members that you once enjoyed as a result of the accident in which you sustained an injury.
With social media, however, an insurance company no longer relies solely on the information you provide. Their investigators will look up your social media posts to ascertain whether there really has been an impact on your social life.
If you have recently put up a social media post after your accident that shows you enjoying life as normal and still enjoying your usual hobbies, your insurance company may deny your claim and bring legal action against you for fraud.
Or there is a chance that insurance adjusters may decrease your claim to an amount they deem fair due to your social media posts.
The Courts, Social Media, And Personal Injury Claims
In 2018, the case of Nemchin v Green set the tone for the use of social media in personal injury cases.
The trial judge originally excluded the use of social media posts. However, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the Facebook videos and photos provided context. Thus, they should be used as evidence in the personal injury case.
The Ontario Superior Court further held that it is the duty of the trial judge to carefully examine each piece of evidence to determine whether it is admissible.
The court in the Nemchin case further stated that when it comes to the admissibility of video evidence, the content is admissible so long as it depicts the scene and has not been altered or changed.
This is an important case that gave significant guidance on the use of social media in a personal injury case.
Best Practices For Social Media Use After A Personal Injury Accident
Social media is a great tool when used correctly. If you have any form of social media and have been in a personal injury accident, it’s important that you approach it with care.
Certain best practices will ensure your information and pending personal injury case stay protected. The last thing you want is for your social media activity to jeopardize your claim.
Below we take a look at some top best practices when it comes to using social media after a personal injury accident. These include changes to privacy settings, hiring a personal injury lawyer, and limiting posts immediately after your accident. Let’s take a look at some of these in more detail below.
Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Even though you can’t protect all of your information completely, it’s still important to adjust your privacy settings. You want to make sure that only people you know can see your information.
Some tips that help to keep your account private include:
- Untag yourself in posts with people you don’t know.
- Limit the audience for posts you have shared.
- Manage who can look up your email and phone number.
- Limit who can see your photos.
Resist The Temptation To Post Immediately After Your Accident
If you have just sustained injuries in an accident, update your friends and family members on messenger platforms rather than Facebook or Instagram.
There is a chance you may have sustained a head injury or be on strong pain medication. This may lead to problematic social media posts.
As a result, your innocent social media post may be misinterpreted or taken completely out of context. By the time you realize it, it may be too late, as hundreds of thousands of social media users now have access to your posts.
So, take the time to recover first before posting anything that may affect your personal injury claim.
Avoid Posting New Posts While Your Lawsuit Is Active
This is the best way to prevent losing your injury claim. By posting on social media while your lawsuit is active, you risk exposing information to the opposing lawyer that will jeopardize your case.
Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer
By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you can ensure that your claim is in safe hands. An experienced lawyer is in the best position to advise you on using your social media account while having an active personal injury case.
How Does Keeping Your Social Media Account Private Make A Difference?
You may think the solution to the problem is to make all your social media accounts private. What does this mean, and is it an overarching solution to this problem?
When you change your social media account to private, you limit the users who can see your content without your permission. On social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, users are then only able to see your posts, likes, and comments if you accept their friend requests or follow requests.
So, in the case of investigations by insurance companies, if they are not your friends or approved followers, they will not have access to the contents of your account.
But is this a fool-proof solution? The answer is no.
In reality, this will not work. When it comes to the investigation of a victim’s social life in a personal injury claim, the insurance company is within its rights to apply for a court order compelling the injured party to give access to their social accounts, even if set to be private.
Sustaining a personal injury can be extremely overwhelming. You may feel that you need the support of your social media friends and followers. It’s okay to turn to social media but be mindful of what you post.
Be sure to follow all the tips and tricks mentioned above and consult a personal injury lawyer to guide you through the process.
At Fosters Law, our team of personal injury attorneys is more than happy to help you with the whole process from start to finish, whether it is an insurance claim or a court case.
Get in touch today for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.