Although used by billions of people around the world, social media is a relatively recent development. Its consequences of how it affects the everyday lives of individuals are appearing in society on a continual basis. One example involves social media evidence in workers’ compensation cases. Such evidence is often easily attainable and has the potential to threaten your claim for compensation.
If you’re concerned that your claim for compensation for your workplace injury may be denied or if it has been denied, Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help.
Social media’s transparency and accessibility can damage an injured worker’s pursuit of compensation. A claim’s success depends whether or not the injury occurred during the employee’s time at work. Since compensation paid to a worker for their injuries is a significant cost to the worker’s employer and insurance companies, most employers and insurers will find any opportunity to avoid liability for your claim.
Employer’s or insurance company’s often avoid liability for a claim by using any available evidence to prove that you misrepresented the nature of your alleged workplace injury. If you, as a claimant, document your experiences or communicate with others through social media, they can potentially use this as evidence against your claim.
After experiencing a workplace accident that has forced you to not work for an extended period of time, you may be eligible to receive permanent, temporary, or disability benefits. However, employers and/or insurance companies may seek to utilize photos, status posts, check-ins, and other social media evidence in workers’ compensation cases that could potentially disprove your claim.
An example would be a claimant employee who claims to have greatly limited use of their arms and back as a result of a workplace injury, but is visible on a recent social media post lifting some boxes for a friend who is moving.
Although social media evidence in workers’ compensation cases can be valuable for employers and insurance companies seeking to deny a workers’ comp claim, not all social media evidence is automatically admissible in court. In order to pass the test for admissibility, social media posts must:
Social media evidence is subject to the same standards and treatment as any other form of evidence. Investigators and police officers must properly maintain the integrity of the chain of evidence to minimize any possibilities of evidence tampering or fabrication. Also employers, insurance companies, and their legal representatives must provide proper explanation of any social media evidence they wish to introduce and verify how that evidence was obtained.
An employer or insurance company may also search for social media evidence in workers’ compensation cases by examining the timeline of certain posts. This information can help investigators determine if an injury claimed by a worker actually originated in the workplace or during the employee’s free time.
For example, a few months before a claimant filed a workers’ comp claim involving a shoulder injury, they posted that they injured their shoulder playing tennis during the weekend. Investigators examining the social media evidence may determine that the claimant simply further aggravated the injury at work, and the original cause of the injury occurred outside of the workplace.
In some instances it’s clear that a claimant has not been truthful about the nature of their injury. All it takes is one photo or social media post to easily disprove the claim of their inability to work.
However, it’s also important to understand that pictures on social media posts can be interpreted wrongly by investigators as a fraudulent attempt to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. For instance, a social media post may show you at a gathering of family and friends having a nice time. However, the investigators do not know how long you spent at the gathering or what your limitations were while there. Therefore, social media evidence in workers’ compensation cases may be misconstrued and used against you.
In order to avoid wrong interpretations of your social media posts, after you have filed a workers’ compensation claim you should either refraining from posting anything or make your social media private in order to limit who can view your posts. Insurance adjusters are not permitted to bypass your privacy settings in order to obtain protected information and photos.
However, since some photos can be copied and posted publicly by others, an insurance adjuster could obtain some of your information even if you use your privacy settings. Therefore, it’s important to assume that anything you post on social media has the potential to become public, and thus used as evidence to discredit your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
To ensure your workers’ comp claim will be handled properly, it’s important to have a highly skilled and experienced attorney on your side that understands how to bypass any possible obstacles of having your claim approved.
At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we are here to help you obtain the rightful compensation you need and deserve in the aftermath of your workplace injury. Contact our team today at (312) 236-2900 to set up a free case evaluation.