There was an interesting article in the Vancouver Sun yesterday highlighting ICBC's reliance on social media to defend personal injury claims. The Vancouver Sun reported that ICBC put out a tender last week to pre-qualify a new fleet of private investigation firms to help it conduct surveillance, canvas neighbourhoods, comb through financial records and use other investigative techniques to prove people are not being honest when they claim compensation for injuries in vehicle accidents. However, ICBC also indicated that its reliance on private investigation as a defence tool is much lower than it was a few years ago, as ICBC has an internal cyber team that conducts investigations through social media searches.
In particular, the ICBC cyber team mines what the Vancouver Sun described as a "potential treasure trove" of pictures and status updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites. I have blogged in the past about the potential impact of social media on an individual's personal injury claim. It is quite common for ICBC to rely on photographs and entries on social media in an effort to argue that an individual is not as injured as they claim in their litigation. The usefulness of this type of information can, of course, be questioned. In my experience, most people who are injured do not utilize social media to update their friends and family with respect to the difficulties they face as a result of their injuries. Social media platforms more typically are used by people to post happy events. A client may post a photograph of themselves skiing or snowboarding at Whistler, which on its face may appear to be show a person physically able to undertake such a task. However, what may not be posted on Facebook is the fact that the individual was only able to ski one run and had to spend the afternoon undergoing massage therapy to recover from the pain of spending time on the hill.
In any event, this article in the Vancouver Sun is a further reminder for injured individuals in British Columbia that they should be mindful of their social media practices when pursuing a claim against ICBC or any other defendant. If you have any questions about best to manage your social media platforms during the course of your legal proceeding, feel free to contact me.