Facebook Strikes Again

In yet another example of a personal injury claim being undermined by postings on social media, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, demonstrating a Facebook posting undoing a claimed damage.
In this week’s case (Neyman v. Wouterse) the Plaintiff was injured in a 2007 collision.  She sued for damages and her claim was partially successful.  An aspect of her claim that was not accepted dealt with driving anxiety.
The Plaintiff claimed that one of the consequences stemming from the collision was “a driving phobia“.  The Court did not accept this finding that the Plaintiff was “an unreliable historian“.  In coming to this conclusion the Court referenced the Plaintiff’s own Facebook posting and provided the following reasons:
[126]     Ms. Neyman’s evidence that she continues to suffer from a driving phobia, albeit one that has improved, is also questionable. Before a Facebook posting that she made on January 9, 2009 was put to her, she gave the impression in her evidence that she generally suffered from anxiety after the Accident, but that it improved with time. In her Facebook posting, she wrote about driving her mother’s manual transmission BMW late at night and at high speed. The entry reads:
Angela Neyman is finally remembering how awesome it is to drive 120 clicks on a clear road in her car (Ang ?’s Speedy G).
[127]     I found that Ms. Neyman’s responses to questions during cross-examination about that entry reflected poorly on her credibility and indicated a mindset that continues to be heavily focused on the Accident as the cause of every problem or difficulty she has faced since. Once the Facebook entry was put to her, Ms. Neyman denied suffering any phobia to driving that involved driving very fast, late at night, and in the dark with a sore knee. I also found Ms. Neyman’s attitude towards defence counsel during the exchange to have been inappropriately condescending. I also found Ms. Neyman’s evidence to be at odds with her previous testimony that in 2011, two years after the Facebook posting, she was forced to purchase a vehicle with an automatic transmission because she found driving a car with a clutch aggravated her hip. That evidence is also inconsistent with her similar advice to Dr. van Rijn in 2010 that she found it difficult to drive a standard vehicle, “as using the clutch aggravates her back and hip pain.”
[128]     Many of the answers she gave in cross-examination about a number of her Facebook postings reflected a mindset to minimize physical and travel-related problems not related to the Accident, and to discount as overstated those Facebook postings that suggested she was, following the Accident, pursuing an over-burdensome schedule by working mostly full-time hours while attending school on a full-time basis.
[129]     I am, respectfully, unable to accept the submission made by her counsel that a number of Ms. Neyman’s postings on her Facebook that might reflect poorly on her credibility should be characterized as youthful boasting to her peers. Her comments on Facebook were made of her own volition. In my opinion, having observed Ms. Neyman in the witness box over the course of several days, I am satisfied that her Facebook comments accurately reflect her mindset when each posting was made.
[130]     In all, I found Ms. Neyman to be an unreliable historian in many respects. She is unduly focused on the Accident as the cause of all of her pain and difficulties with school and work. Accordingly, I find it difficult to place meaningful weight on much of her evidence concerning the nature and extent of her pain and suffering caused by the Accident and what happened to her on impact.

credibility, facebook, Mr. Justice Walker, Neyman v. Wouterse, Social Media

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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