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What social media precautions should an injury claimant take?

Being involved in a car accident is a stressful experience. Victims are often most focused on recovering from their physical and psychological injuries while also worrying about how they are going to pay for damage to their vehicles and how they can make up for lost income. Filing a personal injury claim is often the best way of ensuring that accident victims can cover these unexpected costs. However, claimants are often unprepared for some of the things that can go wrong when filing a claim, including with the impact social media posts can have on their claim. Below is a look at how social media can affect a personal injury lawsuit and how claimants can deal with this risk. 

Social media in personal injury claims

As Global News reports, evidence from social media, such as photos, videos, comments, and status updates, are increasingly finding their way into personal injury lawsuits. Such evidence is usually used by insurers trying to argue that a claimant's injuries have been exaggerated. For example, photos taken from a claimant's Facebook profile may show that claimant engaging in activities that seem to contradict the injuries he or she is supposed to be suffering from.

However, using social media to uncover fraudulent claims is not a straightforward process. As the National Post reports, judges and legal experts across the country are becoming increasingly skeptical about how reliable social media evidence really is. Social media posts, after all, do not always accurately reflect a person's quality of life. Instead, people who post on social media often only show the best moments of their lives. Any suffering that they are going through is often hidden from the camera, yet social media can create a false image that a person who is in fact undergoing serious pain and suffering is actually leading a happy and fulfilling life.

How to handle social media

When social media evidence may be damaging to the claimant, it is often the defendant (usually the insurer) who will seek to introduce that evidence in court. However, in order to be admissible, that evidence must have been gained legally. A defendant, for example, cannot hack into a claimant's email or Facebook profile in order to steal damaging evidence. Even if that evidence does undermine the claimant, such evidence would likely not be admitted into court.

That's why claimants should do everything possible to make sure their social media profiles do not inadvertently end up damaging their case. While increasing one's privacy settings on social media may help, it is important to understand that even with privacy settings high social media posts can still find their way to the public (at which point they can be used by the defense). In most cases, the best way to handle social media in a personal injury case is to simply stay away from social media entirely until the case is resolved.

Personal injury law

Anybody who has been injured in an accident should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. As the above article shows, there are many considerations to keep in mind when filing a personal injury claim. An experienced lawyer can help clients understand what elements go into filing a claim and what forms of compensation that client may be entitled to.

Sources:

Global News. "How your social media posts could affect future personal injury lawsuits." http://globalnews.ca/news/2543024/how-your-social-media-posts-could-affect-future-personal-injury-lawsuits/. Nicole Bogart. 26 Feb 2016.

National Post. "Evidence found on social media increasingly deciding factor in personal injury cases." http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/evidence-found-on-social-media-increasingly-deciding-factor-in-personal-injury-cases. Douglas Quan. 7 May 2015.

Abstract:

A look at what people should do about their social media profiles during a personal injury lawsuit.

Google+ snippet:

*Stay off Facebook when making a claim*
Check out this article about how social media can adversely impact a personal injury claim. Because claimants may post something to social media that may inadvertently undermine their claim, such social media evidence has increasingly been used by insurers as evidence against claimants in recent years. Social media evidence is not always a reliable way of assessing how much pain and suffering a claimant is experiencing, which is why claimants need to be especially careful with how they handle social media.

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