06 Jun ICBC Will Be Checking Your Social Media
ICBC has a cyber team within their Special Investigations Unit which looks into potentially exaggerated or fraudulent claims. This cyber team carries out social media searches in order to prove whether or not you are being honest when you make a claim for compensation for your injuries.
Pictures and updates posted on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are a treasure trove for ICBC. If you claim you can’t work due to your injuries and then post photos of yourself water-skiing, ICBC will present that as evidence against you in court.
This is exactly what happened in the case of Dhaliwal v. Randhawa, 2016 BCSC 2005. The Plaintiff, Mr. Dhaliwal, was a 19 year old labourer at the time of the accident. He suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck, back and shoulder in the accident and claimed damages for pain and suffering, as well as income loss.
Although the Plaintiff worked as a labourer, he had expressed some interest in becoming a police officer. Following the accident, the Plaintiff quit his job after attempting a short return to work program. After that he held a variety of jobs, most of which involved physical labour.
At trial the Plaintiff claimed that his neck, back, and shoulder pain had become chronic, having persisted for more than five years since the accident. He alleged that his continuing symptoms prevented him from pursuing his ambition to become a police officer. He also alleged that he suffered a loss of capacity to work as a result of the injuries.
ICBC admitted that the Plaintiff suffered a soft tissue injury in the accident but said the symptoms persisted for two years or less. ICBC also argued that the Plaintiff had not suffered any loss of capacity to work. Further, ICBC said that the Plaintiff was not limited in his activities or lifestyle. The Plaintiff lead a very active social and recreational life which could be seen on his Facebook postings.
The Judge agreed that the Plaintiff’s activities in recent years were relevant to the nature and extent of his injuries. His Facebook postings showed that he purchased a sport-style motorcycle after the accident and rode it in and around the Lower Mainland area. He had taken part in white-water rafting and hiking, as well as trips to Winnipeg, India and London. In addition, he regularly lifted weights and ran on a treadmill at the gym.
The Judge concluded that the Plaintiff continued to experience some ongoing discomfort in his neck, shoulder and upper back as a result of the injuries suffered in the accident. Five years post-accident, this pain or discomfort was considered chronic and likely to persist.
However, the discomfort did not interfere with the Plaintiff’s lifestyle or his ability to work. The Plaintiff continued to work in positions which required a fair degree of physical activity, including lifting moderate weights. He was able to perform these activities without difficulty.
ICBC presented Facebooks postings that the Plaintiff had made which were critical of the police. The Judge noted this was unwise for someone who professed an interest in police work. After considering the Plaintiff’s evidence, education and employment history, the Judge concluded the Plaintiff’s attitude and approach to his work was the real reason that he could not pursue employment as a police officer.
At Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota, we understand that most people post happy events on social media, even if they are suffering physically from an accident. We will ensure that everything possible is done to protect you from having your social media posts used as evidence against you in court.