Potential Impact of Social Media on a Personal Injury Claim
What you post on social media may be used against you in a personal injury claim. John Philp joins the Morning Show to discuss what people should consider when filing a personal injury lawsuit. For more information, or to see how our team of personal injury lawyers might be able to help in your specific case, call us today at 1-800-JUSTICE for a free initial consultation.
LIZA: Thank you Rosie. Well, when you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you have to produce all documents that are relevant to any issue in the lawsuit. But what about your social media activity? How is Facebook and Instagram relevant to your case? Personal Injury Lawyer John Philp from Preszler Law here to explain. Good morning.
JOHN: Good morning.
LIZA: So there’s a couple of interesting cases that have happened across Canada - a woman in BC was seeking damages after neck, back, and shoulder injuries in two car accidents, and lo and behold, suddenly her social media pops up and she looks like she’s having a pretty good time and able to do physical activity.
JOHN: Yeah. Social media, in any personal injury lawsuit, especially in the last decade, has become so prevalent in terms of using it against a plaintiff to the benefit of the insurance companies. It used to be that insurance companies could use surveillance techniques, so they’d have an investigator following you, for a day or two, maybe doing something that you say you can’t do. With social media it’s basically a gold mine for the insurance companies, because they can now - legally, there are judicial decisions, as you just mentioned, that allow these insurance companies to tap into people’s social media accounts. So anything you’ve posted on Facebook, Instagram, comes into play in a personal injury lawsuit.
LIZA: And that’s true even if you’re a private user, anything like that?
JOHN: What people don’t appreciate, and it happens very frequently in, in what we do, when we hire - when we’re hired by, by a client, the first thing we tell them - get rid of social media. Shut your profile down. Doesn’t matter if it is private, if it’s public, if it’s just your family and friends - turn it off. Because, yeah, even if it’s set at private, the most restricted settings you can possibly have on Facebook -
LIZA: You’ll have to provide it all.
JOHN: You will have to produce it. Especially, you know, it’s, it’s difficult for people, because in this day and age, Facebook is part of our lives, and for a lot of people - especially younger people - it is an integral part of their lives, so ask them to turn that part of their life off, when they’re involved in a personal injury lawsuit, it becomes very difficult for them to do that, because that’s how they keep in touch with people, that’s how their friends can see what’s going on in their lives, why -
LIZA: And as you pointed out, insurance companies were hiring private investigators - essentially now people are doing the PI’s work for the insurance company.
JOHN: They are. And it’s - you know, it cuts a little bit both ways, because, you know, if you have a personal injury lawsuit, and you say you’re injured, then really you shouldn’t be posting photos of you -
LIZA: Surfing pictures -
JOHN: But what we find, in our business, is because Facebook and social media, sometimes it’s the, it’s the persona we like to put out there, to the public. It’s not necessarily the reality. You’re posting photos of what you’d like your life to be. So maybe, even though you’re seriously injured, maybe there’s a circumstance where that one time you tried to do something, but -
LIZA: I was reading about a woman who had claimed depression and that sort of thing, and that’s why she had to be off work, and then she’s at the top of a mountain smiling and happy, and that was her defense, that it’s like, well I was trying to get back to being happy, so I did that.
JOHN: Yeah. And it really depends on the circumstances, it depends on the believability of the plaintiff, when you actually go to court, a judge and a jury are going to assess exactly that. Do I believe this person? Is it really this one time that they actually tried to do something, and this is the evidence that we now have, a photo of this person on the top of a mountain, smiling. Um, you know, even if you’re the most likeable, honest, credible person, that photo’s there now, and it’s going to be into the lawsuit.
LIZA: Yeah. Delete it, or not. John Philp from Preszler Law, thank you so much.
JOHN: Thank you for having me.
LIZA: Good talking to you. If you have any questions for John or his team, you can go to our Facebook page at facebook.com slash Morning Show TO. We’re gonna take a break. We’ll be right back.