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Social media profiles may form part of the evidence in personal injury claims

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HCPC guidance on social media - think before you post

I enjoy using social media as much as the next person but do you know that your social profiles may be disclosed and form part of the evidence if you choose to make a personal injury claim?

Much of the information that you post on social media is typically public. This means that anyone can do a quick search and find your images or posts. It has become commonplace for insurers acting for defendants in personal injury claims to scrutinise the social media accounts of claimants in order to look for information which conflicts with or contradicts their case. It goes without saying that it is sensible to have privacy settings in place on your social media accounts, for a huge number of reasons, but this tactic employed by defendants also reinforces the importance of ensuring that you are completely honest with your solicitors from the start of making a claim, so that no inconsistencies can be found on a review of your social media. If you are found to have been fundamentally dishonest in respect of any aspect of your claim, your entire personal injury claim can be dismissed, including any of the genuine elements of your claim.

There have been cases where social media posts have been used by defendants as evidence that the injured claimant has exaggerated the severity of their injury or been dishonest about elements of their claim. Being ‘caught out’ on social media can have a devastating impact on any personal injury claim but can also result in criminal consequences for the claimant. An example of this was a case where the claimant advised that the accident had affected his mobility and that he was therefore unable to perform his normal day-to-day activities. After a bit of digging by the defendant’s insurers, it was discovered that the claimant had posted on Twitter that he had recently ran a 10km race and climbed Mount Snowdon. This resulted in his claim being struck out and in costs penalties for the claimant.   

All it takes is for the defendant’s insurers or solicitors to look up your details, or even access social media accounts of your friends and family, in order to find personal information about your social life and activity levels. In our view, it is important not to take social media or surveillance evidence at face value as it is well known that people often portray a ‘polished’ version of their lives on social media. Their social media accounts don’t, therefore, necessarily reflect reality. In one case, a claimant was seen at a family wedding smiling on photographs and the defendant tried to rely on this evidence to undermine the severity of her injury. In this case, there was a good argument that the claimant hadn’t behaved dishonestly as, in reality, who would pose for photographs at a family wedding with a sad or ‘pained’ expression?

The key point to take from this is that anything on your social media accounts, particularly if they do not have good privacy settings, can be accessed and viewed by other parties and it is now very commonplace for insurers and solicitors acting for defendants to view claimants’ profiles as a matter of course. If your social media is not consistent with your instructions to your solicitors (even in a fairly minor way), your whole claim could be struck out. The vast majority of claimants are genuine and honest and do not need to be concerned about what they post on social media, but this serves as a reminder to remain honest at all times, both when providing instructions to your solicitor and when posting on social media.

If you do believe you have been injured due to someone’s negligence then please do not hesitate to contact our personal injury solicitors on 0161 696 6235 to discuss the matter further to assess whether or not you do have a claim.

By Rachel Gildart, new business advisor