Social Media and Your Personal Injury Claim
Many people use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter on a daily basis. Few people realize that photographs, videos, and other information posted to social media accounts can be used as evidence in a claim for compensation for personal injury. Edmonton lawyers at McCourt Law Offices prepared this post to discuss how social media posts can impact your personal injury claim.
Edmonton lawyers discuss production of social media posts in litigation
Courts across Canada, including Alberta courts, have ruled that social media posts are “documents” or “records” that must be produced in legal proceedings if they are relevant and material to issues raised in the pleadings. In some cases, social media posts can be producible regardless of the privacy settings on the account (though the courts will balance the value of the evidence against privacy interests where concerns are raised). The court can make a preservation order to stop a party from deleting relevant information from social media accounts. The court can also draw an adverse inference against a party who has deleted material such as photographs or videos or closed a social media account mid-litigation.
How is social media evidence used in injury claims?
Edmonton personal injury lawyers at our firm provide clear legal advice to accident victims about social media posting and how it can impact their claim. Beyond privacy issues and the question of whether social media posts are relevant and producible in litigation, it is important to understand how social media evidence can be used in a personal injury claim. Social media evidence is commonly relied on by defendants in personal injury claims to challenge the seriousness of the injuries, undermine the validity of the claim, or damage the credibility of the accident victim. For example, a defendant may argue that photographs from a Facebook profile showing the plaintiff engaging in physical activity such as exercise, hiking, or sports demonstrates that the plaintiff is exaggerating the extent of a soft tissue injury.
Edmonton lawyers push back against the weight of social media evidence
Edmonton lawyers at our firm who represent accident victims push back to minimize the weight given to social media posts. The reality is that people present themselves on social media in a way that does not necessarily reflect their pain and suffering or their true medical condition. The courts have recognized that "… profiles may contain an overly positive perspective regarding one's abilities or interests or a certain amount of puffery." (per Justice Strekaf in DeWaard v. Capture the Flag Indoor Limited, 2010 ABQB 571). Social media posts must be approached with caution and be considered within the context of medical reports and other testimony. In the DeWaard personal injury case, the Alberta court found that Facebook photographs of the plaintiff riding a bike were not persuasive compared to medical evidence about the foot injury he sustained after falling through a hole in a platform while playing laser tag. Mr. DeWaard was able to maintain a reasonably active lifestyle, but he was less active than before and he could no longer engage in some of the activities he previously enjoyed. Justice Strekaf found that Mr. DeWaard's complaints regarding ongoing pain were credible and well supported by the medical evidence, despite the Facebook photographs.
Get legal advice from top Edmonton personal injury lawyers
If social media evidence is not properly addressed, it has the potential to damage a legitimate personal injury claim and reduce overall compensation. If you have been injured in a car accident and have an injury claim, Edmonton lawyers at McCourt Law Offices can provide you with legal advice with respect to privacy issues, advise you on what information you are required to disclose in your personal injury lawsuit, and minimize the use and impact of such evidence in your case. We also recognize that in many personal injury claims, the threat of having to disclose personal information from social media accounts is used as a tactical maneuver by the defence to force an accident victim to settle. We are dedicated to serving our clients and we will not permit the defendant or the insurance company to leverage your sensitive, personal information against your right to full and fair compensation for personal injury.
Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Edmonton personal injury lawyers. You deserve compensation for your injuries, and at McCourt Law Offices, we pledge to fight for your right to full and fair compensation.