It is common in the present day and age to publicise everyday activities and life events on social media.
We are often asked whether and how Claimant’s social media posts impact their damages claim.
There is a positive obligation on a Claimant not to defraud (or attempt to defraud), mislead, or knowingly provide false information to insurers in the course of their claim. Different types of injury claims (e.g., workers’ compensation, motor vehicle, public liability, medical negligence) may have different procedures for dealing with fraud. A successful conviction of fraud can have serious consequences for a Claimant, including the loss of their claim, monetary penalties, or even imprisonment.
Sometimes, a Claimant’s activities inferred from social media fall short of fraud, but nevertheless indicate dishonesty or exaggeration of elements of their claim.
Reliance on evidence of a Claimant’s lack of impairment in social media posts has become increasingly common in personal injuries cases. A failure to disclose relevant information to lawyers or medical experts that is evident from social media posts could result in a Court accepting that a Claimant has consciously exaggerated symptoms to promote their claim.
The Courts have taken a strict view on actions that, although not serious enough to amount to fraud, reflect poor credit by the Claimant, which can be compounded by attempts to conceal their activity by changing social media access from public to private or deleting previous posts.
There have also been cases where Claimants have been ordered by the Court to restore and disclose social media posts as contemporaneous evidence of engaging in activities that they have asserted were beyond their capability. In one case, a Judge made an order that he become the Claimant’s Facebook friend, to monitor the posts.
Ultimately, the impact of social media posts in a damages claim goes to a Claimant’s credibility as a witness, which can affect every aspect of the claim that relies on the Claimant’s evidence.