When you have a personal injury claim, you already have plenty of worries. The last thing that you want to deal with is something affecting your compensation payout. Social media posts have been legally be used as surveillance evidence in personal injury claims. Don’t make the mistake of posting something you believe is innocent only to have that brought up in court or WorkCover WA. Your workers’ comp or other personal injury compensation payouts can be affected by those posts. There is a precedent of this being legal set by Digby v The Compass Institute Inc & Anor (2015) QSC308. The defence team doesn’t need to inform the plaintiff when they intend to use social media data.
The simplest course of action is to quit social media entirely. Still, it is possible to continue to be on social media with a pending personal injury claim. However, vigilance about what is posted is required.
Top 10 Posts to Avoid
When making posts with a personal injury claim pending there are some specific things to watch out for. These things are same whether you have a workers’ comp claim or a car accident injury claim. Namely, avoid posting anything that invalidates the claim that is being made—or could be seen to do so.
- Photographic evidence of strenuous activity – like sports, running, weightlifting, and swimming should not be posted.
- Verbal evidence of strenuous activity – just talking about having done or enjoying certain activities can hurt a claim in court.
- Posts that seem to contradict your claimed level of pain – what contradicts your claim depends on the person. For example, if you claim you need a neck brace, a single photo without it can damage you unless you report to your doctors that you only use it sometimes.
- Admitting liability – don’t assume any conversation is private. No matter who you are talking to on social media it isn’t completely safe. That is not the place to discuss possible liability.
Ultimately to avoid social media being used against you in court consider each post and if it can be seen to contradict your claim. The opposing lawyers will not be shy about using surveillance on you and your posts.
There is also another type of post to be avoided that might not be as intuitive. You should also avoid posting things that could be used against you less directly but still affect your compensation payout.
- Comments on legal advice or progress of the claim – Stating things about the claim or that happen between you and your lawyer isn’t wise and you may lose legal professional privilege. The best lawyers have strategies they probably don’t want revealed.
- Your intended locations – Providing this information can allow the opposing side to track you. They can hire surveillance to watch you.
- What your friends are posting – Even if you watch your own posts, information can be used against you from posts your friends and family make. So make sure to warn them what not to post. Then take frequent inventory to make sure nothing potentially damaging is posted without your knowledge.
- How often you post – Even how frequently you are posting could be used against you. It can be construed to show less disability than is being claimed.
- Where you post from – Just like how often you post, the places you are posting from can matter. If your claim involves being able to get around or psychological ability to go out, the locations of your posts can be used against you.
- Emotional content of posts – If a psychological aspect is part of your claim, watch that the content you are posting matches. It can feel natural to pretend to be happier than you are on social media. If you are including depression or other psychological hardship as part of your claim, than this can also hurt your case or even get it dismissed.
4 Things to do when you have a pending personal injury claim
After that long list of things not to do, the list of things to do may feel like a relief as it is proactive. It is hard to watch your steps at all times. Often feeling as if there is something to accomplish can help lessen the feeling of helplessness. The list of to-do’s in the case of filing a personal injury claim is actually pretty simple.
- Be honest – It is much harder for the opposition to prove you are lying if you aren’t. Only claim injuries that are truly being suffered.
- Get the best lawyer – Do your research and find the best lawyer for you. Some lawyers specialise in personal injury claims. While another may have no experience in car accident injury claims or workers’ comp claims. The lawyer you choose can affect your compensation payout.
- Ask Questions – Your personal injury lawyer knows a lot about all of this—more than you’ll ever get from an article or two. If you have questions about what you are doing or what you should do, ask your lawyer. Then simply follow their advice.
- Post conservatively or not at all – Whether it be where you are posting from, how often you are posting, or what you are posting, control it. As long as you watch what you are putting out there, no amount of surveillance can catch you in a lie. It is still safest to refrain entirely from social media until you have your compensation payout. The important part is to make sure you are in control of the information that is out there.
Impact of Social Media
In the end, the impact of social media on your personal injury claim is up to you. The defence can’t use information that isn’t out there. So pay attention to and control what your social media presence is giving away. If you do there won’t be any nasty surprises from social media during your claim.
The information provided in this article is general in nature and should not be relied upon in place of legal advice based on you own circumstances. Liability Limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.