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Personal Injury Claims and Social-Media

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Personal Injury Claims and Social-Media

Personal Injury Claims and Social Media

 

According to CanadiansInternet.com, which monitors technology use by Canadians, 74% of us use the internet at least three to four hours each day. Social media was the third most popular activity online, and, by 2018, 80% of Canadians were maintaining a Facebook account. Approximately half of these users are active daily, and nearly 70% use Facebook at least once a week.

 

A recent poll states that 69% of Canadians read some kind of social media site daily, and 85% read social media site content at least once a week. Other social media platforms popular with Canadians include:

In addition, many people connect with others on platforms such as LinkedIn, Reddit, Google+, or through a personal blog. Younger Canadians use social media more frequently than any other group; the percentage of users 18 to 35 is the highest across the board.

 

It’s obvious that Canadians enjoy connecting through the use of social media. Of course, social media can be a good place to catch up on news of friends and relatives, or to trade hobby ideas. But we are only now starting to discover how quickly disinformation can spread, particularly with regard to politics and news. The power of social media may have far-reaching consequences for democracy and the larger community that we have just begun to understand. Many people don’t realize that information posted on social media may also be used in a court of law. If you are making a personal injury claim, or are involved in any type of legal action, there are some things you should know about posting on social media platforms.

 

Used as Evidence

Social media posts are most often used with regard to family law matters, commonly employed to prove that a parent should not gain custody or to expose financial information. For example, in a case known as B.V. v. P.V., Ontario Superior Court Justice William Hourigan used posts from a mother’s Twitter feed as evidence that she drank to excess. Posts that mentioned “making inappropriate phone calls while intoxicated and being hung over,” led the court to believe that “she engages in a pattern of excessive consumption of alcohol,” despite her claims of the contrary during testimony. And in an Ontario Superior Court case in 2015, Tran v. Tran, a mother used Instagram and Facebook posts to demonstrate that the father had chosen to buy a sports car rather than pay child support.

 

Social media posts have also been used as evidence in personal injury suits. An Ontario Superior Court case, Kourtesis v. Joris , [2007], is an infamous Canadian example of how social media evidence can be used to disprove a plaintiff’s claims. Ms. Kourtesis was involved in a serious car accident, and the trial centred on whether or not she had sustained injuries that caused “pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.” Ms. Kourtesis claimed to have sustained injuries to her neck as well as memory and concentration problems. Because of these injuries, she maintained that her social life had been ruined. However, the defendant’s lawyer got a court order and accessed photos that the plaintiff had posted on Facebook that clearly showed her socializing with friends on many occasions, including numerous photos from a raucous St. Patrick’s Day party that happened shortly before the court date. Her claim for damages was dismissed.

 

In a similar case in the B.C. Supreme Court in 2015, Tambosso v. Holmes, plaintiff Sarah Tambosso claimed that after being in two car accidents, her life had changed completely. She said she had been depressed, and had become “a homebody”. However, after reviewing 194 pages of evidence from Tambosso’s Facebook account, the judge rejected her claim for damages. The social media account showed the plaintiff attending a costume party, performing at a karaoke contest, and drinking and river tubing with friends.

 

Guidelines for Social Media Use

In most personal injury suits, the defence is trying to prove that your injuries are not as serious as you claim they are. The defendant’s legal team can get a court order to obtain access to your accounts, but only if the content might be relevant to the case. Be aware that by intentionally deleting existing posts, you may be committing a crime called “spoliation” and you can be penalized for that.

 

If you have launched a claim for damages, the best course of action is to refrain from posting on social media entirely, and to “untag” yourself from any photos that others post of you after your injury. Keep your privacy settings at the highest level, and never accept requests for access to accounts from people you don’t know personally.

 

A good personal injury lawyer is integral to your case, and will provide guidance regarding social media and other communications that could harm your chances of success.

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Know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to personal injury claims and social media.
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