Many Ontarians use social media to stay in touch with family and friends, post live updates, and share their opinions and insights. But, in the context of a personal injury claim, claimants must be aware of how their social media use can intersect with their personal injury claim.
This blog post will discuss the role of social media in personal injury claims, including who can access your information, how social media is used, and what claimants should do to protect their interests while still enjoying all that social media offers.
What is Social Media?
Social media is digital technology that allows users to interact with other users and exchange ideas. Some of the more common social media platforms used by Ontarians include Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, though many others exist.
Why is Social Media Relevant in Personal Injury Claims?
It might come as some surprise that your social media posts can be relevant to your personal injury claim. Nevertheless, social media can also disprove a personal injury claimant’s claims regarding how they have been affected by an accident. Depending on how a claimant interacts with social media, their posts can provide a glimpse into their life, including their health status. For example, suppose you are injured due to the negligence of another party and claim that you are unable to perform many of your normal activities due to those injuries yet regularly post photos of yourself on social media participating in those activities. In that case, those posts can disprove or, at the very least, hurt your claim. Alternatively, if you claim that you have been unable to work due to accident-related injuries yet post status updates about a side job you have been working on, your claim of being unable to work may be called into question.
What Information Must Be Provided in a Personal Injury Claim?
Under Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure, both the personal injury claimant and the opposing party must produce “every document relating to any matter in issue in an action that is or has been in the possession, control or power” of that party. In other words, any relevant information relating to your claim should be given to the other side.
Either party can also challenge the production of documents. For example, if the opposing party believes that you have not produced a document that you should have produced, they can bring a motion to the court asking you to produce the missing document.
How Can the Other Party Access My Social Media Posts?
In recent years, opposing counsel has become more common in requesting a personal injury claimant’s social media posts. If this information is deemed relevant in the context of your personal injury claim, your personal injury lawyer will provide this information to opposing counsel on your behalf.
It is also not uncommon for opposing counsel (or someone acting on their behalf) to conduct their own research and review your social media posts. Thus, even if the opposing party does not request your social media posts, it is safe to assume they will look at your public social media posts.
Can I Delete My Social Media Profiles?
If you are involved in a personal injury claim, you must not delete or alter your social media profiles or posts. Opposing counsel will likely request that you preserve your social media evidence, meaning that you may not change existing information on your social media page or delete your account. If you have questions or concerns about your social media responsibilities and obligations in relation to your claim, it is best to consult with your personal injury lawyer for guidance.
Social Media and Personal Injury Claims: Tips for Claimants
While the thought of your social media posts being viewed or preserved as evidence may be uncomfortable, taking steps to manage your social media presence during a personal injury claim can help bring peace of mind throughout the process. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand how social media posts may impact your claim and advise you of the proper steps to protect your information and manage social media use during your claim. Some prudent steps to take include the following:
Review Your Privacy Settings
While setting your social media settings to “Private” does not preclude the opposing party from requesting your social media posts, changing this setting can limit other’s access to your information.
Speak Privately About Your Accident and Injuries
While it might be tempting to inform friends and family about your accident or condition publicly, avoid sharing this information on social media. Instead, contact friends and family privately to discuss your recovery process with them.
Use Common Sense When Posting on Social Media
Some personal injury claimants choose to take a break from social media during the duration of their claim. If you choose to continue using social media, think critically before posting anything to your profile, especially if you are sharing pictures or information about your life that may impact the strength of your case. If you have any doubts about the information you intend to post, it is best not to share it.
Ask Friends and Family Members Not to Post About Your Accident
Sometimes, friends and family members may want to talk about your accident and injuries on their social media accounts, even if you have not posted anything. However, these posts may be damaging to your claim. Speak to close friends and family members to ensure they understand that, even if well-intentioned, they should not be commenting about your circumstances on social media channels.
Focus on Your Recovery
Remember that regardless of your injuries or how the accident happened, the most important thing you can do following an accident is to focus on getting better.
Contact Ottawa’s Personal Injury Lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP for Personal Injury Representation
Tierney Stauffer LLP’s trusted team of knowledgeable personal injury lawyers has helped clients with various accident claims for over 35 years. Our team strives to ensure that clients recover maximum compensation to help them recover, while advising them on the best course of action each step of the way. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers about your potential claim.