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What Role Does Social Media Have in a Personal Injury Claim?

Sharing our lives on social media has become something nearly everyone does. Around 80% of the Australian population are active social users as of 2021, up 30% in just six years.

And while posting material on social media enriches people’s lives and helps family and friends stay in touch over long distances, it also comes with pitfalls.

Material posted on social media is increasingly used in legal proceedings, including family and employment law matters. It can also be crucial in personal injury compensation claims, which we’ll provide more information on in this post.

How can a person’s social media profile affect their compensation matter?

When a person makes a compensation claim after being injured, it’s crucial to understand that insurance companies – who assess whether they will accept the claim – will examine the claimant’s social media accounts to see if there is material it can use to counter or even deny the claim.

Insurance company investigators, understandably, need to be vigilant against fraudulent claims. To establish that the injury claimed for and the disruption to a person’s lifestyle caused by the injury are both genuine. One of the methods insurance companies use is to look through the claimant’s social media accounts for verification. They may also look through the accounts of your family and friends for evidence of the effect of your injury. This method has also been characterised as a modern-day form of surveillance.

People share so much on social media. Photos and descriptions of holidays, parties, weddings and other social events they attend, as well as many other aspects of their lives. Many people also ‘overshare’, discussing everything that is happening in their lives – including their personal injury claim following, for example, a motor vehicle accident.

It’s in this respect that social media can reveal more than a person would like to in relation to their compensation matter, perhaps suggesting the injury they’re claiming for – including its effect on their ability to work and their lifestyle – is not as severe as they have claimed for.

How should you approach social media if you’re making a personal injury claim?

While it’s not suggested people completely close down their social media accounts, they need to be extremely cautious about what they – and their family and friends – post if they are making a personal injury claim.

Refraining from posting pictures or videos where they are engaged in strenuous physical activity, such as playing sport, hiking, doing house renovations or anything similar, is highly advised.

Similarly, posting material that suggests a person is not properly observing a course of recovery or rehabilitation could impact on the progress of their claim. Commenting on a post or reply about the injury is also fraught as it may potentially include an admission of liability or partial liability. All discussions about the claim should remain confidential between the person making the claim and their legal representative.

Case example: In the 2015 case of Digby v The Compass Institute Inc and Anor, Ms Digby claimed she had developed a tremor in her right arm and hand after an incident at work. She also claimed for psychiatric injury caused by the impact of the injury on her lifestyle and overall enjoyment. Ms Digby had not been able to return to work since the injury.

But the decision by the judge to allow material from her Facebook account to be introduced as evidence cast doubt on her claim, showing there may have been other explanations for her psychological state and revealing social activity that contrasted with her claim that the injury had caused her social isolation.

As a result, the claimant’s credibility was called into question and the final amount of compensation she received was significantly reduced.

Unsure? Contact expert compensation lawyers

If anything in this post strikes a chord with you, contact Lifestyle Injury Lawyers today for a consultation about your personal injury claim. We can clarify how social media material can be used as evidence to dispute your claim and help you formulate a strategy to approach this difficult issue. Our firm is specialists in all compensation claims – it’s what we do, so we can give you the benefit of our wide experience in getting the best result for clients’ personal injury claims.