Social media platforms allow us to effortlessly share the details of our lives with large audiences. Updating hundreds of followers and friends on everything from where we went on vacation to our latest workout obsession can be done with the click of a button. This has allowed people to build communities with others, both near and far. But is there is a cost to putting so much personal information online? If you are in the midst of making a personal injury claim, is there a risk that your online presence will hurt your case?
The answer is yes. The information we share with our friends and families can sometimes be used by insurers to attack a claimant's’ credibility, or to argue that a claimant is not as injured as they are making out. This could result in a lesser payout or a total denial of a claim.
Such was the case for the plaintiff in a 2015 case heard by the British Columbia Supreme Court. The plaintiff was involved in two car accidents; one in 2008 and the other in 2010. The plaintiff claimed that, due to her first accident, she suffered from soft tissue injuries to her back, neck, and shoulder, including associated pain, as well as psychological injuries, such as anxiety, memory loss, and PTSD. After the second accident, the claimant reported that her initial injuries were exacerbated. She started a lawsuit to recover the damages she suffered as a result of the two accidents.
At trial, the judge found that the plaintiff's testimony about the severity of her injuries and the impact they had on her life was not credible - in other words, the judge did not believe her. While there were many reasons for the judge’s disbelief, one of the reasons he gave related to her social media presence. Lawyers for the insurance company accessed information the plaintiff made available on social networking sites. This information contradicted the plaintiff’s claim that, following the accidents, she was housebound, depressed, had no friends outside the internet, and could not work.
The judge took into account that people tend to present the most positive version of their lives on such platforms. Even so, he found that the posts and photos the plaintiff shared on social media were fundamentally in conflict with her testimony, and therefore undermined her claims.
The judge found that the defendant driver in the 2008 accident was responsible for the accident. The defendant driver in the 2010 accident admitted responsibility. However, because there was evidence that the plaintiff’s injuries were less significant than she claimed, the judged assessed her damages at significantly less than what she was seeking.
The French and English speaking personal injury lawyers at Burn Tucker Lachaîne know how a claimant’s credibility can come under scrutiny when they are seeking compensation for their injuries, and this is particularly true in the case of injuries involving chronic pain, which rely heavily on the claimant’s testimony about their pain and suffering. We always advise our clients to be forthright about their injuries, and to refrain from posting photos and updates on social media sites.
Any picture or comment posted online is merely a snapshot of a person’s life, as it depicts only a momentary mood at a specific time. Such posts can easily be misconstrued or manipulated, based on the perception of an outside observer. In many cases, these comments or photos are not an accurate depiction of how a person feels. Seemingly cheerful people can actually be battling serious chronic depression with no one being the wiser. Many of us prefer to present our sunniest disposition in our profiles and, accordingly, we post celebratory events and positive aspects of our lives.
Do not allow your claim to be denied based on misleading information or innocent pictures taken in an effort to feel better.
If you have been hurt in an accident, call us today to discuss the unique facts of your case and learn about your legal right to compensation. Our empathetic staff maintains a close relationship with all our clients, and we ensure that you are kept abreast of the progress on your case. We understand that this time is stressful for both accident victims and their families, and will do our best to achieve a favourable settlement as quickly and efficiently as possible.
|By Colleen Burn of Burn Tucker Lachaîne LLP Personal Injury Lawyers on May 20, 2016|
|Tags: Accident Benefits, Bicycle Accidents, Boating Accidents, Brain Injury, Car Accidents, Dog Bite, Head Injury, Long Term Disability, Motorcycle Accident, Pedestrian accidents, Personal Injury|