Social media can help keep us connected to one another. Now more than ever, while public health and safety guidelines recommend that Maritimers maintain physical distance from their friends and neighbours, social media can provide us with a link to our loved ones.
But overuse of social media can have its pitfalls, especially for individuals claiming benefits for injuries or long-term disabilities. Sharing various types of information online, like updates about your claim, photos of your injuries, location check-ins, and even seemingly benign posts about your mood may influence your claim’s outcome.
Private information shared on a public platform can be used to question a claimant’s credibility, even when their claims for damages are entirely legitimate. Photos, videos, and other social media posts only provide a snapshot of an individual’s entire life. Taken out of context, these snapshots could be used to cast aspersions or doubts on the veracity of an injured victim’s claims.
If an injury you’ve sustained or another medical condition has caused you to pursue legal action or claim long-term disability benefits and you’re worried about how your activity on social media may impact your claim, a personal injury lawyer may be able to review your case and provide you with useful legal advice.
Social Media Use Across Canada
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have become ubiquitous. As of the second quarter of 2020, Facebook alone boasted 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide.
According to the results of a recent nationwide survey, a whopping 94% of Canadians have at least one account on a social media platform. Users visit various platforms to keep in contact with their friends, follow brands they’re interested in, and share personal information along with photos and videos from their lives.
But there is a fine line between sharing innocent status updates and creating a permanent record of your behaviour that could be used against you at a later date. Once a post has gone live online, even if the user eventually deletes it, there is the chance another party may have seen it and created a screenshot.
In contemporary litigation, posts that have been shared on social media may be admissible as evidence. Even the most casual, offhand updates on social media can be taken out of context in legal proceedings. Misconstrued social media posts can be extremely problematic for individuals involved in a personal injury tort claim, or those whose medical conditions force them to claim long-term disability benefits when used as evidence to disprove their claims.
When Using Social Media Can Be Used Against You
More and more frequently, evidence from social media platforms is being admitted to court to disprove or discredit personal injury and long-term disability claims. Even victims who are rightfully entitled to financial compensation for their legitimate medical conditions can have their claims overturned as a result of evidence obtained on social media.
In some cases, injured accident victims pursuing legal action against a negligent party may find themselves subject to intense scrutiny after sharing posts online. For example, if an individual has been seriously hurt in an accident and their injuries prevent them from performing the physical labour associated with their job, they may pursue damages for future loss of earning capacity. However, if the injured victim posts a photo or video of themselves engaging in mild physical activities anytime after their accident, this evidence could be admitted to discredit the severity of their injuries. Additionally, photos and videos of the injured victim shared by friends on their own social media accounts can be submitted as evidence to disprove their claims.
Injured victims seeking damages in a lawsuit aren’t the only individuals who may be impacted by oversharing on social media. Even individuals who have already been approved for long-term disability benefits because a medical condition prohibits them from returning to work can have their payments discontinued based on their online behaviour.
More than half of millennial social media users admit to curating a more positive image of their lives when posting online. Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and tweets rarely characterize the full experience of the person behind the avatar. In some cases, insurance policyholders receiving long-term disability benefits for pervasive mental health issues like depression may have their conditions called into question if they look too happy on social media. Photos taken on vacation, smiling selfies, status updates using effusive language, and other positive online behaviours may be misconstrued or taken out of context to justify discontinuing benefits payments.
Furthermore, victims who have sustained catastrophic, permanent, or debilitating injuries may choose to pursue damages for pain and suffering resulting from their condition. If the injured party is tagged by supportive friends and family in photos or videos on social media, it may be argued that their injuries do not prevent them from leading an active social life, and therefore, their quality of life has not diminished enough to warrant financial compensation.
Tips for Social Media Use
The best way to ensure that your behaviour on social media does not negatively impact your injury or disability claim is to avoid using social media altogether.
However, for users who rely on social media for business, or are reluctant to stop using their favourite platforms, some behavioural changes online may help decrease the chances of posts from the past affecting their claim. These individuals may consider:
- Avoiding any mention of their claims or injuries on social media
- Not sharing photos or videos of their injuries anywhere online
- Asking their friends not to share photos or videos of them on their own social media accounts, even if they are not tagged
- No longer posting selfies, videos, or other visual representations of themselves
- Denying friend requests from people they don’t know
- Adjusting their privacy settings
- And possibly more
Even posts shared with the strictest of privacy settings, intended for only close friends and family, may still be presented as evidence in court. Therefore, being mindful about what personal information you’re sharing online and how your innocent posts might be misconstrued may help adjust your potentially consequential behaviour on social media.
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you’ve sustained a serious injury as the result of another party’s negligence and have concerns about how your social media profile may affect your legal options, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to offer you useful advice and assistance. If your claim for long-term disability benefits has been denied, and you suspect your behaviour on social media may have impacted your insurance provider’s determination, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to help you appeal their decision.
To review your case in a free, initial consultation, contact Preszler Injury Lawyers today or call us at 902-200-4998.