The COVID-19 pandemic has forced tens of millions of North Americans indoors and… on to their phones. Social media usage is up – way up – since jurisdictions across the continent implemented antiviral lockdowns. That could be bad news for every personal injury lawyer and his or her clients.
Social media usage is up 61 per cent in the United States since the start of the pandemic, according to Kantar. Facebook usage is up 37 per cent. And two-thirds of respondents to an IZEA Worldwide survey said they expected their social media use to increase under lockdown.
According to Law.com, the increased engagement could be a boon for defence lawyers.
“Publicly available social media profiles routinely offer case-relevant information on plaintiffs,” wrote Michael Poskonka and Allison Oliver in a June 16 article. “What are their preferences and everyday activities? Who do they associate with?”
“Keeping in mind ethical and privacy considerations, social media research can provide pivotal information for cases. Litigation related to personal injury, wrongful death and domestic issues immediately come to mind.”
There is already a brief history of social media content being used against plaintiffs in personal injury cases in Canada. In 2015, a British Columbia woman’s claim for several hundred thousand dollars in damages from two car accidents was rejected on the basis of evidence culled from her Facebook account. The plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer insisted that she was depressed; Facebook images presented by the defence showed her attending parties and singing karaoke. She was awarded a fraction of her original claim.
Canadian courts have also questioned the validity of social media evidence. Judges in British Columbia and Alberta have ruled that social media content alone cannot prove that a plaintiff’s injuries are exaggerated. After all, many social media users present idealized versions of their lives, not unfiltered reality. A happy Facebook or Instagram account can easily hide an unhappy life.
If you are a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, using social media comes with risks. Be cautious when posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or any other widely available social media platform. Review your privacy and security settings – your profile should be visible only to those closest to you. And ensure your friends and family exercise caution with their profiles, as well.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers can help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Toronto personal injury lawyer.
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