Social media posts can be used against you in court

Social media posts can be used against you in court

Canadians love to connect on social media so much that posting about what we do every day has become as popular as chatting with a friend.

James Ross is a personal injury attorney at Orendorff and Associates in Sudbury, and he has some advice for individuals who don’t think twice about what they post on social media. “You should know that if you file a personal injury lawsuit, your social media activity will be shown and that may be what ends up identifying you,” Ross said.

Social media platforms are a powerful repository of evidence, and they can have a huge impact on the personal injury issue. Posting pictures while hiking, bragging about running a 10 km or even dancing on Tik Tok could be considered innocuous activities, until presented as relevant evidence in a personal injury trial.

Many of us only show positive things on social media. But there may be consequences to only revealing your best side in the event of personal injury.

If a plaintiff claims he sustained debilitating injuries, but his Facebook and Instagram pages show something else, it could damage his credibility with the jury. Ross said, “It makes a huge difference to the case because credibility is at the root of all personal injury cases. The jury wants to know that what they are told is the truth.”

Ross recounts a case in Ontario a few years ago involving a woman who was injured when a car drove over her foot. She was seeking $3 million in damages. She claimed that her ballroom dancing career was ruined because she could no longer wear high heels. But the plaintiff’s credibility was dented when the defense found photos online showing her dancing in high heels.

If there is a lesson to be learned; Never assume that anything you share publicly or privately is completely confidential. Ross said, “You have to assume everyone will see it, and everyone will read it. If there is nothing you are going to say to your mother, don’t post it.”

Ross tells his clients to be honest and truthful. He said, “Don’t exaggerate the extent of your injuries, but also keep in mind that everything you said on the Internet may come to light in your case. The main point to remember is that everything can be managed, except for lying.”

Ross prefers his clients to be 100 percent honest and then he can ask for context. He said, “Although pictures are worth a thousand words, they often don’t tell the whole story.”

Ross represented a young woman who was injured and then left a noticeable scar on her face. The plaintiff said she was conscious of the scar. The defense attorney asked her how shy she could be when she posted pictures of herself on Instagram. Ross then indicated to the jury that the photographs were taken in such a way that you could not see the scar. So, the Instagram photos that the defense initially used, ended up supporting the plaintiff.

Depending on the situation, online images can either help or hurt the issue. Evidence can be used to strengthen the plaintiff’s position or weaken the defense’s narrative. In personal injury situations, understanding the context is critical.

Anything relevant must be filed in a court of law. Everything you share on social media can become part of the public record, whether you like it or not.

If you would like to contact James Ross, call (705) 673-1299 or visit: www.sudburypersonalinjurylawyers.ca

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