KRIS BONN LETTER OF THE LAW: Be careful what you post on Facebook
For the most part and for most users, Facebook is a harmless activity that allows us to connect with more people and share our experiences. But if you are involved in a personal injury legal action, the consequences of your Facebook postings could be devastating.
Most people like to post positive activities and experiences on social media. Pictures that are posted are a snapshot in time, only that exact moment is captured. The picture does not and cannot reveal what happens after the picture or what was happening before the picture.
There is an old saying that a picture is worth a 1000 words – but sometimes those pictures can be misleading.
The distortion created by a posting on Facebook can be devastating.
There is a recent case from B.C., in which an injured plaintiff, Sarah Tambosso had her claims denied by the judge after the judge saw Facebook pictures of Ms. Tambosso at parties drinking with friends and performing karaoke. The judge said the Facebook posts were completely inconsistent with someone suffering from trauma.
The judge may have jumped to an unfair conclusion. Someone suffering from pain and emotional trauma may not want their friends and family to know the degree that she or he is suffering – so they post content that puts on a brave face and makes them appear happy.
On one hand, if a person is posting pictures that are available to the public the person must be prepared for the pictures to be in the public and available to everyone. On the other hand, if the person does not make the content public and only posts for friends and family that material should be kept private.
Before Facebook, injured plaintiffs had photo albums in their homes. Defendant insurers were never allowed to walk into a person’s home and look through their photo albums – how is looking through a private Facebook account any different?
The best advice is to use common sense and think before you post. Consider that once you post something to Facebook the post will be out in the public and as the saying goes, “can be used against you in a court of law”.
One specific example that I’ve seen is someone posting immediately after being in a car crash and stating something like, “Just in a car crash – thank God no one was hurt.”
But in many cases where there is damage to the soft tissues, the painful symptoms don’t start for hours after the collision, but by then the injured person has already posted that there no injuries. Not something you want to have brought up in a subsequent lawsuit.
So, the better course of action – as long as you are in a personal injury legal action stay off of social media or if you can’t help yourself, avoid posting pictures and use your discretion at all times.
Kristian Bonn is a personal injury lawyer and partner at Bonn Law. He grew up in Trenton, works in Belleville and Trenton and lives just over the Bay Bridge in Prince Edward County.
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