How Your Disability Insurance Company Can Use Your Social Media Against You

The most straightforward and least expensive approach for a disability insurance company to investigate your personal life and maybe discover whether your claim is legitimate is to check your social media accounts.

So it should come as no surprise that this is a behaviour that is becoming more widespread and against which you should defend yourself.

The use of social media to support or disprove a person’s medical status in disability claims is on the rise. This implies that anything posted on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites might be used as evidence against a claimant, especially if they were hurt and filed a disability claim. Insurance firms frequently engage investigators to record claimants as they go about their daily routines when significant sums of money might be at risk. Additionally, they scan social media posts for images and comments that cast doubt on or call into question the veracity of someone’s claim that their injuries had a detrimental influence on their life. This implies that people in accidents must be cautious about what they say and publish online.

One trial involving a lady named Sarah Tambosso, who was engaged in two-vehicle accidents and claimed damages for her injuries, has drawn a lot of public attention in terms of the impact of social media on the case’s resolution. The B.C. Supreme Court judge in Tambosso v. Holmes, 2015, determined that the defendant driver of the first collision (which happened in 2008) was negligent and accountable for any potential accident-related damages for the plaintiff. The motorist accused of being at fault for the second accident (which happened in 2010) freely acknowledged doing so. The extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and the proper damages were the main issues in dispute in this trial. Ms. Tambosso demanded non-cash compensation for her special damages, future care expenses, past and future loss of income, and pain and suffering.

In the 2015 trial, the defendants offered video surveillance and over 200 pages from Ms. Tambosso’s Facebook account as evidence. The plaintiff was spotted engaging in various activities on Facebook, including drinking and river tubing with pals, singing along, going to events, etc. The plaintiff claimed that her injuries, which included pain in her neck, back, jaw, hips, and legs, as well as cognitive and psychological injuries like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mild traumatic brain injury, had completely changed her life. The judge claimed that this evidence was incongruent with the plaintiff’s testimony. The court agreed with the defence’s claim that the plaintiff’s reliability in recounting her injuries was called into question by the social media evidence. The judge stated that Ms. Tambosso’s credibility was the most important factor influencing his decision, not the plaintiff’s testimony regarding her experiences with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain or the medical testimony of several psychiatrists and others who provided statements on behalf of the plaintiff.

The judge cited three necessary evidence submissions indicating the plaintiff’s lack of credibility and eventually influencing the judge’s conclusion in this case. First, the plaintiff claimed that after the defendant driver attempted to pass her car at high speed on the highway’s right shoulder, she looked into the driver’s eyes, and the stress of the event caused her PTSD and other psychological symptoms. This statement sparked the defendant’s disbelief in the plaintiff’s account of the 2008 accident. Video surveillance showing the plaintiff lifting her young son, rollerblading, running, carrying groceries, and other actions in which she did not exhibit the stiffness that she displayed during the trial was the second evidence that called into question the plaintiff’s credibility in the eyes of the judge. Finally, the plaintiff’s Facebook posts, which showed her engaged in various activities and appearing to be having a great time in the weeks and months following the 2008 accident, were also accepted as evidence by the judge. He believed that the latter evidence went against Ms. Tambosso’s statements to her doctor, in which she claimed that she was forcing herself to participate in activities “to counteract emotions of discouragement and withdrawal” but that she wasn’t genuinely having fun. The judge concluded that the plaintiff’s Facebook posts did not match her evidence at trial or her remarks to the medical experts. She was a “homebody,” her “life sucked,” and she only had online acquaintances.

The judge’s assessment of the plaintiff’s losses was significantly impacted by his belief that the plaintiff’s narrative of her injuries and suffering was untrue. Despite the doctors’ supporting report, he concluded that there was no indication that she had any pain due to her soft tissue injuries and that she could have PTSD. The court disregarded the more than $42,000 claimed by the doctor treating her for PTSD because he didn’t believe she had PTSD due to the vehicle accidents. According to the judge, the plaintiff’s injuries from her 2008 accident and her 2010 accident both recovered within three to four months. Furthermore, he thought that she would be able to resume working in the future despite these mishaps. Based on these findings, the plaintiff was given a meagre settlement of $592.30 in special damages, $10,450 in previously lost income damages, and $25,000 in non-pecuniary damages.

Because the trial judge misread the evidence provided, Sarah Tambosso appealed the trial court’s 2015 ruling in 2016. In agreement with Ms. Tambosso, the B.C. The Court of Appeal granted the appeal and mandated a new trial. The Court of Appeal cited several factors supporting its decision, including that the trial judge largely disregarded a wealth of evidence presented during the 2015 trial when determining the plaintiff’s post-accident condition, including the testimony of the 15 witnesses who supported Ms. Tambosso’s account. The trial judge also rejected all of the plaintiff’s medical experts’ testimony because he thought it was primarily based on her account of events, which he did not accept. However, in doing so, he also disregarded the testimony of two doctors who had performed tests that included validity measurements. In his review of the testimony from medical experts, the trial judge’s misinterpretation of the facts had a significant impact and may have even influenced him. However, when considered collectively, the trial judge’s errors in his evaluation of the evidence were of such significance as to require ordering a new trial. The appeal judge acknowledged credibility issues with the plaintiff, even beyond the surveillance and Facebook evidence.

Although Tambosso v. Holmes is still pending, it was established in this case that surveillance and social media data might be given significant weight in supporting or refuting a plaintiff’s testimony on their injuries. Undoubtedly, a plaintiff’s credibility with a court or jury significantly influences whether or not their evidence is taken seriously in proving their injuries and, ultimately, whether or not a lawsuit is successful. This is especially true when an accident victim has injuries like soft-tissue damage, concussion, persistent pain, or psychological harm that are more challenging to quantify by scientific testing. The opposite is true when a plaintiff, such as in the current case, is not believed to be telling the truth. On the other hand, when an accident victim’s testimony is perceived as consistent, forthright, and credible, the court will likely accept that their account of injuries and pain to their physicians and therapists is also reasonable.

One of the issues with utilizing social media as evidence is that postings frequently don’t reflect a person’s actual state of mind. For example, we tend to share hilarious and enjoyable activities on social media platforms because we want to come across as joyful and pleasant individuals and because it is often believed that our friends and family are interested in viewing them. However, our social media posts may not accurately portray how we truly feel, especially those who are depressed or have other psychological or emotional disorders. As a result, it is doubtful if utilizing social media posts as evidence in court will be allowed in the future, and this argument will probably be made in case law. However, given all the available data, it’s conceivable that social media posts might be utilized to help paint a picture of a plaintiff’s wellbeing.

For safety, refrain from posting anything on social media if you have filed a disability claim or are going to do so. For example, even a happy expression in a picture might be mistaken for evidence that the wounded individual is not experiencing pain or a psychiatric illness.

YOU CAN GET HELP FROM KOTAK PERSONAL INJURY LAW/DISABILITY LAWYERS

We comprehend how upsetting and damaging it may be to reject your claim for disability benefits. But unfortunately, there isn’t much time left to challenge your disability insurance provider. Call a long-term disability attorney right now. Many disability insurance providers have successfully sued our firm, including Manulife, Sunlife, Desjardins, Great West Life, Blue Cross, AIG, SSQ, RBC, Industrial Alliance, and others.

Call 905-640-0938 to reach your dependable long-term disability attorneys. We provide a free consultation and don’t get paid unless you do. We can meet you in a nearby courthouse, a coffee shop, your residence, or one of our offices. Including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Milton, Georgetown, Orangeville, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Stoney Creek, Kitchener/Waterloo, Cambridge, London, and Windsor, we represent handicapped individuals throughout Ontario. Other places include Markham, Pickering, Oshawa, Peterborough, Keswick, Kingston, and Ottawa.

Disclaimer:┬áThe material in this post is meant to be generic. We go above and beyond to assure the correctness of this data. The reader should always verify the truth and application of such material concerning their instance, as regulations can change swiftly. This article’s material cannot take the place of a complete and comprehensive analysis of the reader’s case by knowledgeable legal counsel who has had a chance to study all of the facts.