Facebook and other social media sites can kill a personal injury claim. Why? Because insurance companies and their defence lawyers are always looking for ways to undermine the credibility of injured people in order to reduce compensation. Consider someone who says their injury is preventing them from doing certain physical activities but pictures or comments on Facebook suggest otherwise. This may not be accurate, but perception is everything.
After being involved in two car accidents, Sarah Tambosso testified that her life had changed. She became depressed and declined to socialize with friends or participate in activities. She continued however, to be active on the Internet.
In March, a B.C. Supreme Court judge largely rejected Tambosso’s claim after watching hours of video surveillance and 194 pages from Tambosso’s Facebook account showing her drinking and river tubing with friends, attending costume parties and performing at a karaoke competition. In reasons, Judge R.W. Jenkins, wrote,
“I conclude that based on this Facebook evidence, in particular the photos of continued attendance at social events and posts from friends, that the plaintiff had a very active social life following the 2008 and 2010 accidents. The social life portrayed by her Facebook profile is consistent with the social life of someone who went through three engagements, the birth of a child, and a marriage. It is completely inconsistent with the evidence the plaintiff gave at trial and to the experts that she was a “homebody” whose “life sucked” and “only had friends on the internet“.” See https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcsc/doc/2015/2015bcsc359/2015bcsc359.html
Injured people using Facebook that think their privacy settings will protect them are mistaken. Investigators hired by the insurance companies are skilled at hacking through the site and finding pictures and posts not meant for the public. In other cases, judges have ordered the account be opened to consider what pictures a person has posted.