Can social media posts damage your personal injury claim?

Social media posts could be used against a plaintiff in a personal injury claim. (Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)
Social media posts could be used against a plaintiff in a personal injury claim. (Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)

The Internet is not always about fun, games and sharing silly cat videos.

Hundreds of thousands of texts, photos and videos are shared daily on social media. Whether it’s using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., posting on social media has become second nature for many people and sometimes, it could get them into trouble.

If someone is involved in a personal injury dispute (the plaintiff), they should be careful what they post online because it could be used against them in a court of law.

For example, in 2015, B.C. resident Sarah Tambosso claimed she faced emotional trauma due to two car accidents, requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. But the judge rejected her claim as evidence she posted on Facebook showed otherwise; photos of Tambosso partying and having fun with friends were “completely inconsistent” with her claims of depression and social isolation.

Photos and videos posted on social media can conflict with the claims filed in court, so lawyers often advise their clients to be mindful of what they post..

Kourtesis v. Joris (2007), another example of a personal injury case gone wrong thanks to social media posts, Fotini Kourtesis was injured in a car accident and she claimed to suffer physical and mental injuries ranging from neck, back and shoulder pain and memory and concentration issues. Upon defence lawyers discovering photos of her celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends on her social media posts, her case for general damages was dismissed because it contradicted claims she made that her social life was negatively affected due to her injuries.

Another way that posting to social media could hurt a personal injury lawsuit is by showing anger in a post, which may cause the court to view the plaintiff as disgruntled and looking to get money or revenge on the defendant.

In a Forbes story, an American lawyer, John Sloan, says that this can make the plaintiff appear “sue happy” and looking to profit by milking the situation for every penny it’s worth.

Another problem with social media posts in relation to personal injury cases is that if a plaintiff is posting about their injury, even with neutrality, their posts’ claims might not align with the personal injury claim – intentional or not. Even by accident, one wrong move disproving or showing inconsistency with the personal injury claim could derail a plaintiff’s entire case.

Some tips on navigating the world of social media upon involvement in a personal injury lawsuit include:

  • Never share anything regarding the case or conversations you’ve had with your lawyer.
  • Avoid posting photos or videos on social media websites. If you want to share content with friends, use email instead.
  • Remove tags of yourself on friends’ photos, post-injury.
  • Do not confirm friend requests from strangers.
  • Try to avoid commenting on friends’ statuses or writing your own, unless it’s something you’re okay sharing with the defence lawyers.

In addition to looking at a plaintiff’s social media posts, the defence could also collect evidence in more traditional manners by surveillance or examining medical records, etc.

So next time you’re about to hit that “post” button – think twice and make a careful consideration before doing so!
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