If you are injured, and pursuing a personal injury case, face these social media facts: FaceBook might not be your friend; Instagram could mean instant loss of credibility; Your Twitter account could lead to some unwanted followers. What can you do to protect your personal injury case?
Social media is ubiquitous in society these days. There are now 25 million users of social media in Canada. And according to the 2020 Digital Canada report, 80% of those engaged actively within the previous month of the survey. Your comments, pictures, activities and even whereabouts are out there to be seen. By anyone. At any time.
Insurance companies and the defence legal team will be scouring the social media sites looking for any activity that calls into question — even in the slightest — how your injury is (or isn’t) affecting your daily life. Even an innocent smile or “like” can be used against you.
In the pre-social media days, an insurance company would have to go to great lengths and great expense to “spy” on a plaintiff, often hiring a private investigator. Nowadays, the plaintiff can often unwittingly hand over the evidence on a social media post platter.
They should also be aware that their social media activity can and likely will be accessed at discovery and trial, and they will be questioned about the posts.
“The law in Ontario requires that the plaintiff preserve their social media pages and produce material that is relevant to matters in issue in the lawsuit,” says personal injury lawyer Brian A. Horowitz of Horowitz Injury Law. “In cases involving younger clients, the social media content is often enormous and the process of reviewing and determining what’s relevant is daunting.”
With all this in mind, here are 7 social media moves you must make to protect yourself if you are involved in a personal injury case:
- Avoid social media altogether immediately following your injury – even consider suspending your accounts.
- Talk to your lawyer about your social media accounts and take any advice they give you about them.
- If it is not possible to avoid or suspend your accounts, set all your accounts to the highest privacy settings allowable. Ensure that very little, if any, content is “public” (that said, keep in mind that in Ontario it is possible in certain cases that a court order could be made to call private posts into evidence).
- If you are active, do not add any new friends or followers, and give fervent thought to each and every post you make or are tagged in, or any other social media engagement you make (i.e. likes, follows, etc.); ask yourself – could this somehow be used as evidence against me and my condition? (eg. if you’ve suffered serious depression as a result of your injuries, you don’t want to post or be tagged in a picture showing you as the life of the party).
- Ask all family and friends to abstain from commenting on your social pages or posting about/tagging you.
- Never share information about your case on social media. This includes:
- Any type of comment or photo about the case, your injury, or others involved in the case
- Comments about any discussions with your legal team
- Thoughts or comments about settlement funds you could receive
- Ensure your geo-data doesn’t show an appearance at any location or establishment that could call into question the veracity of your stated injuries (e.g. if you suffered severe mobility injuries, you wouldn’t want to be checked-in at a dance studio).
“The reality is that many of my clients simply cannot let go of their social media persona or brand, and their failure to do so, often complicates settlement discussions,” says Mr. Horowitz. “Given the potential harm social media postings may have on their claims, my clients are asked to close their social media files, or at least, agree to not post any more material or photographs while the lawsuit is pending.”
Brian A. Horowitz has been helping personal injury victims for nearly 35 years; he has dealt with the progression of social media from its infancy to current day, and its use in personal injury claims. Trust Horowitz Injury Law to get you the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured, call now for a free consultation: 416-925-4100.