Written on the 30 April 2014

THE prominence of social media has seen an increasing number of claimants unwittingly contradict themselves, according to a Brisbane injury compensation lawyer.

Bennett and Philp Lawyers director Mark O’Connor says it’s becoming more common for people to “torpedo” their own cases.

“The police regularly trawl social media and so do insurers to match claims against what the person might be saying to others.

“Social media and online posts can undo your case if you say one thing to the courts and another on social media,” he says.

O’Connor lists an unaffiliated high profile case as a perfect example, involving a woman seeking damages for debilitating back pain and spasms but who shared her active social life online. Monica Leigh Reitano attempted to claim compensation from RACQ Insurance in Mackay’s Supreme Court after a car accident in 2008.

Reitano said her injuries impacted her life and prevented her from pursuing a career as a foreign correspondent, but posted festival photos and blogged about aspirations to become a psychologist.

Justice David North said her online presence “might be attributable to the vagaries of youthful and forgivable exuberance or indiscretion” and awarded $139,026 for the claim.

O’Connor says that the payout was significantly less than originally requested and that the case should serve as a cautionary tale about what is shared on the internet.

“Social media is going to be a first port of call for evidence in all types of future litigation, especially as some people plaster their lives on social media forums without thinking of the consequences,” he says.





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