How to ensure your social media use doesn’t affect your personal injury claim
Social media is now so popular that many people see it as a part of their everyday life. While social media is a convenient way for people to share aspects of their lives with others, what most people don’t consider is that any information or material they share online could be used as evidence in legal proceedings.
There have been several personal injury cases in the last few years in which Courts have admitted content from a claimant’s social media profile as evidence. In one case, the Court ordered a claimant to produce the contents of her private Facebook page for a 6 year period – going back to a time before her injury occurred. In another case, it was held that insurers do not need to tell a claimant that they are planning to use content from the claimant’s social media profile.
If you’re a social media user, and especially if you have a current personal injury claim, it’s important to keep the following things in mind.
How could my social media posts be used as evidence?
Posts and photos on social media could be harmful to your personal injury compensation claim if they could be construed to contradict what you are claiming.
For example, one aspect of most personal injury compensation claims is a payment for pain and suffering. Courts will award an amount of money to compensate claimants for the loss of enjoyment of life they have experienced as a result of their injury. This includes factors such as the impact the injury has had on the claimant’s social life, recreational activities and mental health.
Similarly, other aspects of personal injury claims, including compensation for loss of earning capacity and compensation to pay for domestic assistance, are related to the extent of the claimant’s injuries.
Often when you have an injury, one way of dealing with the consequences is to put on what we might call a “brave front”. People generally don’t post on social media to complain about how they are feeling. It can be very private and something you don’t want the world to intimately know. This can lead to social media showing your injuries though “rose coloured glasses”.
The problem can be that if you describe to doctors or the insurer that you have a certain degree of injury, but subsequently the insurer finds social media content that appears to contradict any aspect of this, the Court may not accept your evidence about your level of injury. This might also effect what the insurer may be prepared to offer to settle a claim.
What shouldn’t I post?
Most claimants will, understandably, not want to give up social media altogether. However, it is important that you carefully consider your posts, and be aware that even seemingly innocuous posts could potentially harm your claim. We do not suggest that you hide your activities- if you are on social media just tell things how they are without the “rose coloured glasses” and remember that certain comments or picture, without context, might tell a different picture to reality.
Insurers are unable to use evidence they don’t have.
Claimant’s should be careful sharing:
- Photos of or comments about themselves participating in physical or strenuous activities, including sports or recreational hobbies like football, water skiing, fishing or hiking. You should always do whatever activities you are capable of doing and tell doctors or insurers about the things you do, but you might (for example) play football for 10 minutes or one time and have it suggested you play regularly.
- Posts or photos of holiday’s or holiday activities.
- Posts containing emotional themes, especially where the compensation claim includes ongoing pain or a psychological injury such as PTSD, anxiety or depression. This is important because many people naturally or subconsciously put their best foot forward on social media, and they may come across as happier or less effected by their injury than they actually are.
- Photos or comments that could be seen as inconsistent with their claim. This could be, for example, a photo of the claimant out with friends, where they have claimed that their injury has limited their social life.
- Comments about the progress of their compensation claim or the legal advice they have received, as this could waive legal professional privilege.
- Posts describing what happened in the accident.
Claimants should also keep in mind:
- Posts made by their friends or family about or including them could be used in the same way.
- Frequency of posting could be used as evidence, if it could indicate the claimant is less effected by their injuries than they claim.
Why Trust Johnston Withers Lawyers as Your Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you or a family member has been injured at work, in a public place, in a motor vehicle accident or as a result of professional negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers offer a free initial consultation and no win, no fee arrangements, which means that you can tell us what has happened and we can help you decide whether you want to proceed with a claim, without any financial risk. It’s not worth risking losing your legal rights to bring a claim or being under-compensated by an insurer. If you would like to discuss a potential claim, contact Johnston Withers Lawyers, Personal Injury Lawyers on (08) 8231 1110, or get in touch online.