The car accident lawyers at Simpson, Thomas and Associates (STA) have almost 50 years’ experience representing people suffering from auto injuries. Today, one of the most common questions by clients is how to manage social media with an open insurance claim. It’s worth thinking about, and there is no easy answer. Social media platforms are tools and, like any other tool, can be useful or harmful depending on how they are used.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the pros and cons of social media when it comes to ICBC or other insurance companies.
When people ask about social media, most are concerned about the negative implications. They worry that ICBC or other insurance companies could be viewing their profiles. And, in fact, these organizations are free to view your profiles the way anyone else can. It’s important for people with open insurance claims to keep that in mind.
The most obvious problem is when people tell ICBC that they cannot engage in certain activities due to injury and then post photos contrary to their claims. This can be be interpreted as fraud. Even if there’s an innocent explanation, a claimant must be aware of the risk.
A greyer area is how ICBC will interpret photos of an injured person engaged in physical or social activities while they are claiming to be injured. There have been several cases in BC where ICBC’s lawyers have brought photos to the attention of the judge or jury. These situations are unpredictable and can be harmful to a case.
In the 2015 case of Tambosso v. Holmes, 2015 BCSC 359, the Plaintiff gave testimony characterizing her life as being without friends or social activities. After reviewing some Facebook posts, the Court held as follows, at paragraph 174:
I conclude that based on this Facebook evidence, in particular, the photos of continued attendance at social events and posts from friends, that the plaintiff had a very active social life following the 2008 and 2010 accidents. The social life portrayed by her Facebook profile is consistent with the social life of someone who went through three engagements, the birth of a child, and a marriage. It is completely inconsistent with the evidence the plaintiff gave at trial and to the experts that she was a “homebody” whose “life sucked” and “only had friends on the internet”.
There are a number of similar cases. What these demonstrate is that if a person in Court presents an impression that is different from what’s seen on their social accounts, it could potentially impact their credibility. The judge may not believe what is being stated.
The most important thing to remember with an open ICBC claim is that your social media presence is public. It’s quite likely that at some point an ICBC adjuster will likely look at it. For the most part, if claims are honest and consistent, there’s no need to worry. Don’t post anything you would not want shared with a claim adjuster.
Of course, as experienced car accident lawyers, we’ve seen plenty of situations where social media has actually proved beneficial to a case.
The first situation is a hit and run situation. In order to receive compensation for a hit and run, the law requires that people take reasonable steps to locate the driver who struck them. Traditionally this has meant contacting the police, posting signs, and putting a notice in the newspaper. However, recent court decisions have recognized that social media platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook are a legitimate alternative to newspaper ads.
The second situation involves a dispute about how an accident occurred. In such cases, witnesses are essential. In addition to posting signs, social media can be an effective way to seek out anyone who may have witnessed an accident. A witness who supports your version of events can make the difference between receiving fair compensation—or nothing at all.
Like with any major shift, it has taken a while for the law to catch up to the realities of social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit are where a lot of people spend a lot of their time. More and more, these platforms are open tools for expression and communication. In 2018, there is no way for the law to avoid this. As long as a car accident victim is honest and consistent, social media presence should not result in any problems.
For anyone injured as the result of a car accident, the car accident lawyers at Simpson, Thomas & Associates have experience working with accident victims since 1969. We are Vancouver’s longest running firm to exclusively focus in this niche and offer the resources, experience, and know-how to build your case while guiding you through the legal process. Our priority is to bring your compensation and closure, so that you can focus on your recovery.
The team at Simpson, Thomas & Associates is pleased to offer service in French, Punjabi, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Hindi, Tagalog, Russian, and Gujarati. And don’t forget, if you’ve been critically injured, one of our lawyers can come to you.