Don't Let Your Social Media be a Treasure Trove of Information for Your Employer/Insurer
There are countless articles written in insurance industry publications promoting the fact that investigating injured workers through Social Media is a powerful tool in the fight against workers’ compensation fraud. Social Media can also be especially helpful for uncovering incriminating evidence about injured workers suspected of lying regarding what they can and cannot do.
The effective use of information gathered through Social Media enables insurers to dramatically reduce the value of worker's compensation claims. Some companies even have full time employees whose job is to troll Social Media sites looking for information. While Social Media can be a great source of entertainment, it can also be a disaster for injured workers.
There is a vast amount of information that insurance companies can obtain about injured workers through Social Media. The categories below present some important areas of concern:
Photos: Don't post photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, MySpace or any other Social Media when you have an ongoing workers' compensation case. These photos can be shown to your treating physicians to discredit you. They also enable Private Investigators to verify your address and to locate you in order to obtain video with the hope of finding you engaging in activities that exceed the restrictions assigned by your doctor.
People: Writing about people on your Facebook wall or tagging people in photos on Facebook allows private investigators to obtain the names of individuals who are your associates, relatives or friends. The investigators will then know who your friends are at work and who they can interview concerning your accident or your activities.
Hobbies: Posting information about your hobbies allows investigators to zero in on what activities they will be more likely to successfully videotape you doing. You should not participate in any sports or perform any physical tasks such as painting your house, mowing your lawn or working on your car while you are out of work for a work related injury. Even if a private investigator is unsuccessful in obtaining videotape of you, he or she can still gather information which will be used in court or to inform your treating physicians about your level of activity.
Activities: Do not post anything on Social Media concerning any of your activities. For example, Social Media will be used by insurers to see if you have provided certain information such as the fact that you are moving, that you attended a concert or a party, or that you went on a vacation.
In Workers’ Compensation cases, your level of activity can be used to discredit you. This can affect whether you are entitled to receive income benefits. It can also impact whether a doctor, Vocational Expert or a Judge would consider you to be Permanently Totally Disabled. Try searching for your name on Google to see what information comes up!
Private investigators say that viewing what's posted on someone’s wall can be accomplished by setting up a Facebook page and then getting others to friend you so that they can facilitate monitoring your activities. Some claims departments are setting up pages and monitoring them extensively.
Timelines: Social Media can provide important time lines for the insurance company concerning your activities. These timelines can be used to disprove your injuries. For example, you complained of being sick on Monday due to your work injury and needed to miss work. At the same time you made that claim, there are photos of you on Social Media partying in Las Vegas the preceding weekend.
Social Media can compromise and destroy your Workers’ Compensation case. It offers the insurance company a cheap and easy way to do the research. I strongly urge my clients not to post anything on Social Media when they have an ongoing workers' compensation case. Before you consider participating in Social Media, please think seriously about the drastic consequences this may have with respect to your claim. You may try to limit the damage by employing maximum privacy settings. However, those settings are not a guarantee that the insurance company will not be able to obtain your information anyway.