I promise this is a blog about Personal Injury claims, not Pantomimes…
Having worked at GC Solicitors now for 8 years, I have obviously seen some changes in the law over that time but also within society and how we communicate with loved ones and even strangers every day.
When I first started out in the Personal Injury department here at GC, there was a lot of chatter about a high value case that was heading towards Court. Medical evidence had been obtained and supported our client in that her injuries were such that she was unable to enjoy her life in the way she was able to before the accident.
One morning, surveillance footage landed on the file handler’s desk. As this was a high value claim, the Defendant had instructed an enquiry agent to carry out covert surveillance on our client. She had clearly been followed for a number of days and was filmed carrying out activities such as attending the gym. These enquiry agents, when instructed, may loiter outside a Claimant’s house and film them carrying out their everyday activities such as shopping, taking the children to school or perhaps cutting the front hedge. This is done in an attempt to undermine the Claimant’s credibility.
Going back to the changes I have seen over the years, I am talking about social media. It is not unheard of for Defendant insurers to hunt down Claimant’s profiles on Facebook for example and because the security settings of most profiles are low, the Defendant may find a post that looks like the Claimant's injuries aren't as serious as they are claiming. Whilst instructing an enquiry agent may charge a lot of money, it takes little time or effort to find a profile on social media and is free to carry out. So even low value claims will be subject to these kind of checks from Defendants.
As part of the personal injury process, a Claimant will be required to attend an examination with a Medico-Legal expert who will provide evidence detailing how the Claimant’s injuries impact their life. By way of example, take a Claimant who has stated that their ability to walk long distances is impeded because of a serious injury to their legs, a case that could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation. One of the first things the Defendant insurer will do is make attempts to undermine the Claimant’s credibility and will carry out searches on social media. So when the Defendant comes across photographs of the Claimant standing at the top of Mount Snowdon (even though they took the train to the top because their injury impedes their ability to walk) the Defendant will use this against them in an attempt to show that the Claimant can do all that they contest they cannot do and the potential value of the compensation claim could be drastically reduced.
That was a really long winded way of warning potential personal injury claimants to make sure what they tell their lawyer fits in with what they might post on social media and be mindful of what is posted online, whilst pursuing a personal injury claim. Social media content could be used to undermine your credibility or to claw back compensation after settlement.
If you have been involved in an accident and are thinking about making a claim, please call GC Solicitors on 01462 483 800 – and let us know what social media platforms you use!
By Ruth Hinchliffe