Your Facebook Profile as Evidence Against You

If you have been injured and are pursuing a claim for compensation, be mindful of what you post or publish on your social media profiles. Increasingly, content from sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace is being used as evidence in personal injury trials.

In one case (Skusek v. Horning 2009 BCSC 893,  if you’re interested in reading it in more detail), the injured person claimed to suffer from headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, pain between the shoulder blades and bilateral hip pain, and that these injuries prevented her from pursuing a career in nursing and participating in recreational activities.  Defence lawyers, however, were able to produce pictures from the injured person’s Facebook profile showing her white-water rafting, on a soccer team, at a golf driving range, and rock climbing.  Not surprisingly, the Judge found that the claimant’s description of her pain was at odds with her condition and capacity.

In another case (MacIntyre v. Pitt Meadows Secondary School, 2010 BCSC 256), an injured man claimed compensation for injuries to his right knee, right wrist and back.  Once again, photos posted on Facebook were used in evidence. In this case, the photos showed the injured person playing football, kneeling with friends, curled up in a clothes dryer (?! – I won’t ask), kneeling on a tube while being towed behind a boat and in the words of the Judge, “performing many other activities without difficulty.”  The Judge used the photos (and other evidence) to find that the injured person’s testimony and claims were inconsistent with his actual condition and capacity.

These are just two examples.  There are numerous other cases involving Facebook and social media content as evidence, and over the last few years, the Courts have increasingly ordered injured persons to disclose the content of their Facebook or Twitter accounts to defence lawyers.

Did you catch that last bit?  Let me repeat it:  the Courts have increasingly ordered injured persons to disclose the content of their Facebook or Twitter accounts to defence lawyers.  This means that it is not sufficient to merely increase the privacy settings on your social media accounts. Even users with the most secure privacy settings may be still be required to produce anything they have put onto Facebook or another social media site to the lawyers for the other side.

If you are involved in a personal injury claim, you might consider limiting your social media use altogether.  If you chose to continue using Facebook, Twitter or another social media site, be careful to ensure that the content on your profile is consistent with you claims.   Also, be aware that photographs or content published by your friends or family could also end up being used as evidence against you.

For more information on pursuing a personal injury claim, please visit our personal injury website or contact a member of our personal injury group directly to arrange for a free initial consultation and assessment of your case.

This blog is produced by Waterstone Law Group LLP. This blog is intended for information purposes only and is not offered as legal advice for a specific claim. Subscription to or use of this site does not establish a solicitor – client relationship between the user and Waterstone Law Group LLP or any of the individual contributors. For advice relating to your personal injury claim, please contact us to arrange for a free consultation.

3 Responses to “Your Facebook Profile as Evidence Against You”

  • Andre Cardinal says:

    Interesting article, Mr. Sorensen. However, if you have nothing to hide, then it doesn’t really matter if the courts want access your Facebook. Just saying.

  • Ru Lindsay-Scholtz says:

    On a similar note, My wife’s employer has sent out a letter to staff and clients for all staff members to (1) delete all clients from their FB profile friend list and (2) make her (the employer) a friend on FB with immediate effect. Failure to do this could result in dismissal (!!!!)
    This comes after a staff member made a derogatory remark and some accusations about another on FB, on her personal profile and the latter took legal action against her.
    All this stemmed from incidents at work, some of these being made known to clients who threatened to pull their business if first member did not tell them who was responsible.
    Can an employer do this? Surely ones private comments about another on a social website or pics they may post in a personal capacity hold no grounds for employer to use such comments/pics etc against them profesionally, if no mention is made of the business name ?
    I could understand comments made for financial gain being presentable in court, but surely freedom of expression still holds?