Can social media be used against you in a personal injury claim?

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Whether you’re an avid user or only partake begrudgingly, social media is an integral part of how many of us socialize and interact. It allows us to share life updates, follow along with loved ones, network, keep up to date with news, and much more.

But the content that you share on your social media, if your profile is public, is fair game for both insurance companies and opposing counsel in a personal injury claim to peruse, and any information they find that discredits or disproves your case will likely be admissible as evidence.

How can my social media be used against me in a personal injury claim?

When you file a personal injury claim, you seek damages for the injury itself but also for the ways the injury has negatively impacted your life. Losing your ability to perform tasks that you were previously able to do can take a huge physical, mental, and sometimes financial toll.

The types of cases where the injured party’s social media is most likely to come into play are cases where the claimant is making grand claims or assertions that cause the opposing party to doubt whether it’s true. It’s important to be specific and upfront with your claim – if it’s found that you have embellished or exaggerated what you can and can’t do following an injury, it can have a negative impact on your claim.

“You can’t claim that your injury left you completely unable to run, but then post your daily runs on your public Strava account with your full name and a profile picture of your face. But if your claim is that you can no longer run for more than 10 minutes and your posts are in line with that, that’s likely fine,” says Brandon Greenwood, Personal Injury Lawyer at Diamond and Diamond.

Should I “clean up” my social media if I’m considering filing a claim?

When you’re injured and seeking compensation, your lawyer will want to depict what your life was like before and how it has changed post-injury. Pictures of you smiling, being active, and enjoying life before you were injured set a baseline and don’t reflect your post-injury reality.

After an injury, some might be tempted to keep up with appearances and portray themselves in a way that minimizes the extent of their injury. It’s important to be cautious with what you post after your injury and how it could be perceived. If you’re doubting whether a post could be interpreted in a way that would contradict your claim, it’s best not to post.

At a certain point in the lawsuit, the other lawyer will ask you for an undertaking to preserve your social media, and you must agree to this if asked. At this point, you legally cannot modify or alter your social media in any way.

“Ultimately, your social media is never going to be used to help you in your claim – it will only be used by opposing counsel to discredit you,” says Brandon Greenwood. If your profile is private, neither lawyers nor insurance adjusters have access to any special software that would let them see your profile.

Can someone else’s social media be used against me?

If someone with a public social media profile, whether it’s your sibling, your friend, a classmate, or a business, shares a post that contradicts your account of events or of your injury, it can be used to disprove your claim. “If you’re in the background of your neighbour’s photo they posted on Instagram climbing your ladder on a day you claimed you were bed-ridden, that can absolutely be used to disprove your claim,” says Brandon Greenwood.

At the end of the day, the risk of your social media or anyone else’s being used against you becomes an issue when it contradicts what you’re advancing in your claim. It’s always a good idea to be cautious about what you post on social media, regardless of if you’re filing a personal injury claim.

If you’ve been injured while skiing or snowboarding and want to learn more about what options are available to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to Diamond and Diamond today at 1-800-567-HURT to schedule a free consultation.

About Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and member of both Ontario and Florida Bars. Jeremy practices in the area of Plaintiff personal injury litigation. Click here to learn more about Jeremy Diamond.