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The Role of Social Media in Personal Injury Claims

There is little doubt that social media has changed the way we live and interact. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or any other social media app, many people now interact with friends and family via these platforms more often than they do face-to-face.

And while there are many benefits to the growth of social media – interconnectedness, convenience, access to information – there are potential downsides.

The law is one area of society that is still catching up when it comes to the implications of social media. In the areas of personal injury and family law, in particular, the role of a person’s social media posts can become crucial in the outcome of their matter.

When you’re making a claim on compulsory third party (CTP) insurance, workers’ compensation, public liability, or total and permanent disability (TPD), here’s what you need to be aware of in regard to your social media posts.

Can social media posts be used in court?

The short answer is yes.  Social media posts can be used to test the credibility of a witness.  A number of court cases in recent times have highlighted the problems that can arise when a person who is making a compensation claim for injury suffered in an accident has their credibility undone by social media posts, which appear to show that the injuries are not as bad as claimed.

In the case of Foong v Ghaly; Foong v McLellan [2017] NSWDC 303, Ms Foong’s attempt to claim $20 million in damages as a result of two separate car accidents ended up with the judge at first instance awarding her only $1,250 for each accident. The judgement was based on a lack of medical evidence plus Ms Foong’s social media posts which showed that her lifestyle and level of activity continued without interruption after the accidents.

The implications of these cases

It is now common that a defendant will conduct a social history investigation.

The difficulty with social media is that we always look to put on our best face.  We tend to downplay the problems in our life because everybody wants to project an image that they are having fun and that life is great.

Unfortunately then, the social media posts don’t always match up with reality.

An insurer will always look to draw the court’s attention to any apparent inconsistency and argue that the inconsistency shows a lack of credibility.

There are therefore two very important points that arise:

  1. It is important that social media posts reflect reality. It is important that posts are realistic;  and
  2. Do not fall for the trap of providing a history that overlooks the activities that appear in social media. Doctors and barristers in court will look to ‘catch you out’ as a result of any inconsistencies and social media provides a great opportunity for this tactic.  It is important that a full and fair history is provided so that you do not fall into this trap.

In conclusion

While we can provide advice and guidance to take caution about social media, at the end of the day, what you post is up to you.

You should be aware that the content you post on social media may be used against you with potentially devastating consequences.

At BPC Lawyers, we have everyday experience in helping clients understand the implications of their social media usage while making a compensation claim. We are specialists in personal injury compensation with expertise in giving your claim the best chance of success. Contact our personal Injury Lawyers, today for a free case appraisal on (02) 8280 6900.