How Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Monday, 18 September 2017

How Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

#AskKevinButler

The widespread belief that social media has become a part of everyday life is backed by statistics showing 3.4 billion people using social media around the world. Closer to home, almost 89 percent of the population of Canada uses the internet, and 64 percent of them have accounts on at least one social media platform. Ontario has the distinction of being the most connected province with 67 percent of its population on one or more social media platforms. The popularity of social media has a dark side when your posts are used against you in court.

Social media posts become evidence in court

Personal injury defence lawyers are using the popularity of social media to their advantage against personal injury victims filing claims for compensation. What you post on social media, even something as innocent as a picture of you laughing and having fun with friends at a party, could become evidence against you. If you claim to have suffered emotional trauma due to an accident, that picture of you at a party could be used by defence counsel in an effort to defeat your allegation of depression and loss of a desire to interact socially with your friends.

Even if you do not post anything on your Facebook account or other social media platform, the posts, particularly photos showing you engaging in activities that would be in conflict with the type or extent of injuries you claim to have suffered, can be used against you in court. For example, if you suffered a back injury and claim it prevented you from returning to work, a picture posted on Facebook by a friend and tagged to your account showing you helping during a home renovation project by carrying lumber up a ladder would provide defence counsel with evidence to disprove your claimed disability.

Distorting reality – the danger associated with posting on social media

The picture on Twitter of you partying with your friends that the defence lawyer wants to use against you may not tell the true story. If you are like most people, you could be grimacing in pain until someone points a camera at you and tells you to smile. The picture does not portray the truth of how you felt at the time, but once it is posted on social media, it becomes potential evidence.

Admissibility of social media evidence in Ontario courts

As a general rule, courts in Ontario only allow access to an injured party’s social media accounts if the defence can show it is relevant to proving a material fact or facts in the case. For instance, a request for access to photographs posted on social media contradicting the injured party’s claim of limited mobility was granted by a judge who agreed the pictures were of value in proving an issue in the case. The judge refused to allow the defence to use comments attached to the pictures because the invasion of the injured party’s privacy rights outweighed their use as evidence.

Protecting your personal injury claim

The best way to protect your personal injury claim from being harmed by what you post on social media is to refrain from posting. It might seem extreme to be told not to post, but something you might believe is safe and will not harm your lawsuit could be used against you.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have the experience and the knowledge of the law and the rules of evidence to protect your personal injury claim from social media or other evidence offered by the defence. Contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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