Social Media and Personal Injury Claims

Social Media and Personal Injury Claims

Social Media and Personal Injury Claims

 When you are injured – in a motor vehicle accident, in a slip-and-fall on another’s property, or by a faulty product, for example – you will probably want to make a personal injury claim with your insurance company. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may also decide to bring legal action against the at-fault party. There are certain things that you should do following an injury that will help to support your claim. These include:
  • Seeking medical attention as soon as possible and documenting all care that you receive.
  • Reporting the accident to the proper authorities.
  • Obtaining medical records and saving receipts for medical equipment and prescription medications.
  • Getting contact information and statements from any witnesses to the accident.
  • Taking photos of the accident scene.
  • Documenting any loss of income. How many hours were missed, and when? How much would you have been paid?
  • Writing a personal account of the accident, both the details of what happened and how the injury has affected your life.
  • Getting impact statements from other people who have been affected by your incapacitation, such as spouse or children. Has there been a loss of intimacy or an unexpected burden placed on them?
  • Are you unable to perform household tasks? Have you had to hire someone to do housework or to help you care for your children or an elderly relative? Have you had to have attendant care to help you with daily life? Detail these expenses.

Recording the details of the incident and the effects of it can help your personal injury lawyer to build a case. However, there are also some things that you should not do if you plan to make a claim for a personal injury.


What Not to Do

 You may have a perfectly valid claim, and you may deserve compensation for your injury. But if you fail to document things properly or if you do things that work against you, you may be denied damages or receive a smaller settlement. Here are some of the things that can make it more difficult for you to recover compensation for an injury:
  • Your behaviour contributed to the injury. If, for example, you were wearing 6” stiletto heels when you slipped on an icy sidewalk, you were not using good sense, and may be held partially responsible for what happened.
  • You were engaging in risky behaviour at the time of the accident. If you were under the influence when your vehicle was involved in an accident, you were committing a crime, and damages reflect your culpability.
  • You make a statement to an insurer before getting legal advice. Insurance companies often try to get you to make a statement before you know the extent of your injuries. Taking back a statement can be difficult.
  • Your social media posts contradict your evidence. More and more often, Facebook or other social media posts are being used against personal injury claimants.


Social Media Risks


In 2015, a Squamish woman had her personal injury claim rejected by a BC Supreme Court judge because of what she posted on social media accounts. Sarah Tambosso claimed that after being involved in two motor vehicle accidents, she suffered from PTSD and depression and was a “homebody” whose only social interaction was online. When photographs from Tambosso’s Facebook feed were brought to light, however, they contradicted this grim picture. The photos showed the plaintiff drinking, river tubing with friends, attending costume parties, and performing at a karaoke competition. The judge felt this contradicted her claims, and denied a claim of hundreds of thousands of dollars, awarding her only $36,000.


The question of whether or not social media is an accurate reflection of the poster’s abilities or state of mind is far from settled, however. In an earlier BC case, the judge rejected Facebook evidence, saying that “A snapshot does not show anything but a moment in time, and does not disprove that the plaintiff also had many times … declined to participate in activities or felt in significant pain after trying to engage in activities.”


However, if you are planning to file a personal injury claim, it may be a good idea to stay off social media. The nature of sites such as Facebook is that people tend to “put their best foot forward,” perhaps masking how they really feel. Just as job-seekers need to be careful about what their social media feeds might tell prospective employers, accident victims need to be sure that they are not revealing things that might work against them in legal proceedings.


If you’ve been injured in an accident, consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can advise you about what you need to do in order to help your claim, and can be a great support during a tough time. Contact a personal injury law firm today, and get the compensation you deserve.