A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Social Media & Your Personal Injury Claim

facebookIn today’s world social media is the way we express ourselves to the world. It is a way to express what is going on in our lives with those close to home and those friends and family far away. It is a way to share our passions, interests, jokes, photos and stories with the world.

Unfortunately, privacy settings can only protect you so much. When you place any information or pictures on the internet, you run the risk of it being seen by other people. Despite your exclusive friends list, the internet and Facebook do not guarantee the privacy of your photos and posts.

So the question becomes, if you are in litigation following a motor vehicle accident, where a significant factor being evaluated by the Court is your ability to live your life the way you had prior to the accident, what, if anything, should you be putting online?

The decision is ultimately yours, but the less that is available for misinterpretation the better.

Let me use an example to demonstrate my point.

I have lived in B.C. for 2 years and I don’t post many pictures online. I have posted some pictures of myself on an A.T.V. at the top of a mountain overlooking a lake. I have ridden an A.T.V. a total of two times in my life (it was awesome!). From my family and friends back home, I got questions about whether I had purchased an A.T.V. and if that is how I was spending my weekends in B.C.

From a few pictures people were getting the impression that I was an avid rider. Realistically, I went down the mountain rather slowly and the whole ride was less than 30 min. The trail was relatively flat and good for beginners.

The recent decision of Tambosso v. Holmes, 2015 BCSC 359, also exemplifies this point. In this decision the Plaintiff was claiming that the injuries she suffered following two motor vehicle accidents had significantly affected her social life. Her evidence at trial was that she became a homebody following the accident and did not participate in social activities with her friends. Her Facebook profile, which was included into evidence, told a different story. There were photos and comments showing the Plaintiff participating in parties and social activities several weeks after the accident. The Court in this case considered the Facebook evidence in assessing the Plaintiff’s claim for damages. The Facebook evidence played a role in significantly reducing the amount of money she was awarded.

Pictures and videos are easily misinterpreted. Simple “status updates” can be read many different ways. In order to ensure that the evidence in your trial and litigation is a realistic representation of what is occurring in your life, I would urge you to be careful with what you post and who you share your online profile with.

If you would like more information on what to do if you have been injured in an accident, contact me today at caia@hemmerlinglaw.com or by phone at (250) 448-7200.  I would be pleased to meet with you for a fee 1/2 hour consultation.

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The lawyers at Hemmerling & Associates Law Office do provide legal advice, however, we advise only clients of our firm. Nothing on the Hemmerling & Associates Law Office website, blog, Facebook or Google+ page is to be taken as legal advice.

Each individual case requires that we review the specific facts and documents in order to research and provide an appropriate legal opinion. While the information contained on these forums is about legal issues, it is not legal advice. All non-legal professionals are urged to seek legal advice from a lawyer.

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