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How your actions on social media could affect your personal injury claims

By z4027672030, Mar 7 2016 09:19AM

It is well known that nearly everything we do on social media can affect our offline lives, and our online actions can be held against us.

There are examples of people being fired after ranting about their superiors on Facebook, or even people who have posted holiday photos on Instagram and returned to find their homes have been robbed.

The real-life repercussions for the ever growing love of social media continues, and it is now becoming increasingly common for defence lawyers to use social media to dispute personal injury claims.

How does it work?

When you post photos on social media, it is essentially like having a photo album that can be accessed by nearly anyone. When a personal injury occurs, people more often than not claim both their physical and emotional health has been affected. The defence has been going to the courts and asking for disclosure of material from social media accounts to see if both sides of the story add up.

For example, there was a case where a woman claimed two car accidents caused her severe emotional trauma, but her case was destroyed after photos on her Facebook page showed her at parties, drinking with her friends and taking part in karaoke.

The judge said the Facebook posts were “completely inconsistent” with someone who was suffering from the trauma she was claiming.

Issues

The issue with this is, people do not always broadcast their “real” image on social media, so it can be difficult to interpret the context of the photos or the posts.

For example, a person who claims to be suffering from emotional trauma after an accident may not want their friends and family to know they are in pain, so they are trying to mask their true feelings.

They may also post an entire album of pictures showing them having fun at an event, but that could have been the only event they have attended in that year. Trying to decipher the truth behind the photos or posts can be quite difficult.

What you need to know

If the defence wish to introduce social media posts into evidence, it is up to the judge to argue the weight of the evidence. One or two images over a couple of years wouldn’t attract very much weight, but multiple posts or images in a short space of time would likely warrant more weight, as it starts to look like a pattern.

It is also worth noting that privacy settings may not protect you in legal cases, as a judge can order a plaintiff’s Facebook profile be introduced into evidence, even if all the posts are set to private.

There has to be a sense of relevancy in the photos, as the defence are not allowed to go searching through all of your material. If there is some evidence of relevancy, the court will order it to be introduced or have it reviewed.

The best advice? If you have been involved in an accident, think very carefully before you post on your social media accounts as they could later be used in a court of law.

If you have any questions surrounding a claim, please contact a Devon personal injury solicitor at Taylor’s Solicitors, who will be by your side through every step of the process in a professional and friendly manner.

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