Social Media and Personal Injury Claims in the GTA

Social Media and Personal Injury Claims in the GTA

Sharing Your life on Social Media may Affect Your Injury Claims with Insurance Companies....

Article Written By: Glenna M.
Social Media and Personal Injury Claims in the GTA

We all like posting to social media. Those friends in cyberspace can celebrate our triumphs, cheer us up when we’re down, or give us plenty of advice. However, there are times when it’s best to refrain from posting on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram. One of these times is when you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident.


In Ontario in 2007, in the case of Kourtesis v. Joris [2007] O.J. No. 2677, a plaintiff claimed that her injuries in a car accident had caused pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. She claimed to have neck, back and shoulder injuries as well as problems with memory and concentration. These latter issues, she claimed, had ruined her social life. However, during the trial, it was discovered by defense lawyers that Ms. Kourtesis had posted photos of herself celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a group of friends a few months earlier. The photos seemed to directly contradict what she was asserting about her social life, and because of them, her claim was entirely dismissed.


Other plaintiffs have suffered similar fates. A Squamish British Columbia woman, Sarah Tambosso, initiated a very substantial claim in 2015, saying that she was suffering from “severe emotional trauma” as well as multiple injuries after an accident. However, Facebook posts of Ms. Tambosso river rafting, singing karaoke, and drinking with friends led the judge to believe that she was not, in fact, suffering much emotional trauma, and reduced the amount of her claim to $36,000.


In 2009, in a case called Leduc v. Roman [2009] OJ No 6838, a judge ruled that postings on Facebook pages are considered documents within the meaning of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure. Some social media posters may think that having their site settings set to “high” privacy levels will protect them, but that is doubtful. The party seeking production has to put forward evidence that there is relevant information in the private profile, but when warranted, a judge has the power to order that a plaintiff’s Facebook profile be introduced into evidence -- even if all of the posts are set to “Private”. It seems fairly clear that when ordered, a plaintiff will have an obligation to produce relevant text, photos, and videos from his/her Facebook account.


Think Before You Post

When it comes to social media, it’s best to refrain from posting anything that you don’t want brought up in a court of law later on.


In particular, if you’ve been in an accident, don’t post about it in any way. If you go onto Twitter after an accident and announce, “Thank God I wasn’t badly hurt,” for example, this might be used against you in court – even if your injuries are later discovered to be more serious than you originally thought. If you are making a claim, never post anything about your legal strategy, or information about conversations you’ve had with your lawyer. Don’t post photos of your injuries, and un-tag yourself from any injury photos others may post of you. Never post any pictures that contradict what you are claiming. For example, if you are suffering from depression following an accident, you may feel like posting photos of yourself smiling or joking around in order to portray an image that’s more upbeat than you actually feel. But a judge may decide that a person who is repeatedly posting happy photos does not actually seem depressed. (If, however, those smiling photos do reflect your inner state, then you should drop your claim!)


Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you (or family members) have been injured in an accident and are thinking of making a claim for damages, you may be wondering how to choose a lawyer to represent your interests. First, you will want to work with a lawyer who has a lot of experience with these types of cases. Dealing with insurance companies can be very exacting, and involves a lot of time-sensitive paperwork; only a lawyer with in-depth experience in this field will be able to help you navigate the process.


Next, look for a law firm that suits your particular needs. Some GTA firms feature services in other languages, for example, which may be helpful, or you may want to find a firm that has an office located near where you live. Many firms offer free initial consultations to assess your case, so take advantage of that. Google firms in your jurisdiction, or ask for a referral from a friend. Then meet with a lawyer from the firm and see how you get along -- it’s important to find someone who you can work with effectively. Clear communication, professionalism, respect, and approachability are all important considerations. A good personal injury lawyer can come into your life when things look bleak, and can make a huge difference to your future.