Social media is everywhere is these days. In fact, according to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), 74 percent of Canadians spend at least 3-4 hours online per day and the third most popular online activity is social media (67 percent). But while social media may be great for finding interesting content and socializing with friends, during a personal injury suit it can be dangerous and even detrimental to your case.
Most people have heard the typical Miranda warning, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” During a personal injury suit the same could be said for your social media activity. While your lawyer can guide and inform you, ultimately it’s up to you to navigate your social media presence during your case.
What to Know Before Using Social Media During a Personal Injury Suit
The first thing you need to know is that yes, your social media activity can be used in court during a personal injury suit. However, as a general rule, in Ontario the courts will only allow access to your social media accounts if the defence can show that it is relevant to the case.
It’s important to understand what type of evidence the defence may be looking for. More often than not in a personal injury suit, the defence will be looking to prove that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. Say for example, you claim pain and suffering after an accident. Then later, you post a picture of yourself laughing with friends. Though it might not tell the full story, this image could be used as evidence to contradict your claim. Another important thing to note, is that even photos of you posted by other people may be used as evidence.
Should the defence come across a questionable picture or post online, you cannot simply delete this content. The preservation of evidence is integral to a fair and just litigation process. If you intentionally delete or destroy this evidence, you will be committing spoliation and can be penalized.
During your personal injury suit it’s important to err on the side of caution when using social media. In general, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
1. Have your privacy settings as high as possible.
2. Do not accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
3. Don’t post anything to do with your case online.
4. Untag any pictures of yourself from after your case, especially if they undermine your claim.
5. Consider the content of any post you are writing and remember this could be brought up in court.
6. Consider not using social media until your case is settled.
If you’re on social media, it’s important to understand the implications your online presence can have. Once you post something on the Internet, it’s there to stay whether you like it or not. During a personal injury suit, your social media activity can even be used against you. This is another reason to consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer. Having an expert on your side will help you navigate these types of complexities and ensure you get the compensation you’re entitled to.