Every single week our Ottawa personal injury lawyers get a courier package from a defence lawyer enclosing photos from our client’s Facebook page or Twitter. Most of the time the photos are reasonably innocuous — no skydiving, bungee jumping or cartwheels. But the photos nevertheless compromise our clients cases.
Members of the Public Don’t Understand that Injured People Smile Sometimes
The public and therefore the jury are very slow to accept that you can be in pain or depressed when you are standing in a photo with an ear-to-ear grin. How do they reconcile that happy-looking face with the sad story you and your lawyer are telling? The truth is that often they can’t.
You can do your best to explain (truthfully) that you just smiled for the camera, or were having a good day, or were trying to make the best of things for your family. Often, it doesn’t matter. The defence lawyer will use the photo to imply, suggest, hint or straight out proclaim that you are a fake and your case is worth nothing.
Education about Chronic Pain and Mental Health Are Part of the Solution
As our future jurors learn not to rely on stereotypes about chronic pain or depression, it will be easier to explain a few smiling photos take over a 5 year period following an accident. The fact that a so-called invisible injury can be debilitating is gaining acceptance.
The fact that a person who suffers these types of injuries might put on a brave face for a family event or an outing with their children does not mean they aren’t injured.
Best Protection from Social Media is to use Retraint
Until it is commonly accepted that chronic pain is real and depression sometimes smiles, protect your case.
Our personal injury lawyers HIGHLY recommend that our clients resist posting photos on social media. We also ask that your friends and family not post photos of you, or tag you. Every time you post, you create an unnecessary risk to your case. Text or email photos to your friends and loved ones. Continue to smile on the days when you can!
But please, keep your beautiful face off Facebook!