One important factor for claimants to find in a personal injury law firm is their adaption to new technology. A law firm that stays antiquated with paper only systems and out-dated computer software can potentially bring increased costs to clients through inefficienc
For example, a task such as conducting research may go exponentially faster with legal staff up-to-date with technological trends.
However, that is only one aspect on how technology is evolving personal injury claims. Another significant way to see technology in personal injury law is on how it is affecting the claimants themselves.
How technology is changing your claim outcome is the topic in this series of articles. East Coast Injury Lawyers will assess and give insight on some of the most recent and impacting technological trends that are affecting Australians with their personal injury claims in workers compensation and motor vehicle accidents.
Since Facebook was invented in 2004, it has been both the blessing and bane of people all over the world. As a one stop source for personal news, pictures, videos and gossip, Facebook has exploded in popularity and set the stage for other social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
The Social Proof
Don’t believe us? Even law firms are proud to show off their office’s culture and accomplishments through social media. Check out our social media pages:
The Dark Side of Social Media
However, on a more serious note, social media has also brought up a darker side of online networking in the forms of cyber stalking, bullying and even promotion of illegal activities. The increased amount of abuse online stems from one central problem with online social media: privacy.
It is always possible for people to steal your identity, or even just spoil your image by posting a bad photo, comment or video about you. It is also possible for such online activities to progress to more serious situations such as assault and battery.
These problems may lead to potential altercations and injury that can lead to compensation by suing the aggressors for an intentional tort.
How Social Media Affects Your Legal Rights
Despite increased privacy security settings, information stored online is often far from private. Such power to spread your image and information worldwide in a simple way has also made social media a great resource for insurance defence investigators to pry into your private life when a claim is made for compensation in both motor vehicle accident and workers compensation claims.
Social media may also be subpoenaed to be used as evidence in court.
Insurance companies often bank on claimants thinking that their information online is inaccessible. However, simply having access to general information such as favourite places or activities can potentially expose claimants to a slew of credibility attacking evidence; most of this information may not even help defend against a claim but could nonetheless make an insurer more resistant to settling on favourable terms.
For example, a direct keyword Facebook search can reveal information about you through public sites pages such as Facebook groups and organization Facebook pages. Investigators may also learn about your hobbies and search those same groups for information about you. One of the most common examples I have come across was investigating claimants who were ‘unable to raise their arms, bend or twist their hips’ but were caught dancing in various poses contrary to their complaints because photos of them were published on a nightclub website.
Advice from East Coast Injury Lawyers
This was the very issue that arose from the recent 2015 decision in Digby v The Compass Institute and Anor. In this case, a woman was injured at work when a police safety presentation caused one of her clients to fall and she injured her arm trying to protect the client. She sued her workplace for damages in negligence and although she was successful in holding her workplace liable, her damages were limited significantly because of evidence found on her Facebook page (that was not revealed until the trial.)
Social media should not be seen as an “end all” to a personal injury claim. However, it definitely should be managed early in a claim to minimize how an insurance company can use that information against you.
It is also important that you follow ALL the advice of your medical doctor regarding your limitations and your capabilities. Almost all medical professionals acknowledge that patients have good days and bad days. Following the advice of your doctor and remaining active within their accepted parameters will not only help heal you faster, but it can also potentially mitigate the effects of a potential social media issues by giving a reasonable and viable justification to some of your activities (e.g. I said that it was difficult for me to walk after the accident, by my doctor advised to try and do a little walking more and more each day.)