Use Social Media Wisely If You Were Hurt on the Job
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be daunting and exhausting, especially if your work injury requires medical care or rehab. Your primary focus is on healing up and receiving your well-deserved insurance payout. During the process of submitting your claim, it can be easy to get caught up in sharing your ordeal with friends and family and broadcasting your life on social media.
However, posting on your social media profiles while your claim is processing may hinder your workers’ compensation case, get your claim denied, or possibly incriminate you for insurance fraud. It’s imperative to exercise the highest level of caution and place your social networking profiles on the most restrictive privacy settings just as a general practice, but in the case of filing for workers’ comp, the reason is more important: any insurance company can find what you post online and use it against you, including information posted on now-defunct sites such as MySpace.
Let’s say you slip on a wet floor in your office lobby and suffer a leg injury. Even if you’re not active on social media while recovering from this injury, your employer’s insurance company will be on the hunt for any piece of evidence to disprove your workers’ compensation claim. A photo of you at a bar, a video of you playing football, or a Facebook status about how much fun you had at that concert, even if it was posted last year, can all be used in court to prove you’re not in as much pain and suffering as you claim.
Insurance companies are looking for high profits and low payouts for themselves, and as unfortunate as it sounds, they can admit something you posted on Facebook several months before your work accident as evidence that you’re over-dramatizing the severity of your injury, which they may consider insurance fraud. If this sounds like a stretch, consider the case of State of North Carolina v. Antonio Delontay Ford.
Even though this particular example was a criminal case, the court ruled an original song and photos posted by the defendant on his MySpace page as admissible court evidence that aided in their guilty verdict of his pit bull murdering his next-door neighbor. They stated in their verdict that the defendant knew of his dog’s aggression problems, which was determined by the photos’ captions and should have known not to let the dog roam free around the neighborhood.
How Can Internet Posts Incriminate You?
Just like how courts can get a hold of private emails you send to a select predetermined recipient with a subpoena, claims adjusters and private investigators can access anything you’ve posted on the internet, meant for a blanketed, undetermined audience, with a subpoena or during court proceedings.
When it comes to Facebook and Twitter posts submitted publicly for a wide viewership to see, there’s no way of knowing exactly who will end up viewing your statuses, photos or videos, even if your privacy settings are at the highest level. Posts can get shared and spread across the profiles of friends, and then friends of friends, like wildfire, and there’s not really anything you can do to stop this from happening. Social networking sites also have backups of their uploaded data stored on their servers, making it even easier for a claims adjuster to request any information on you if they feel it will help their case.
Anything you post on the internet, no matter how innocuous it may seem, can potentially deny you a claim. According to the American Bar Association, it’s important to follow precautionary steps and hire a work injury lawyer who can assist you with managing your online presence throughout the process of filing for your workers’ compensation.
Restrict Your Social Media Profiles’ Privacy Settings
While anything you post online is never actually private – Facebook and many other social media networks’ terms and conditions state that they’re allowed irrevocable, perpetual rights to any type of media posted on their sites without compensating the original poster—there are a few steps you can take to reduce the chance of your personal posts spreading very far.
It’s generally in best practice from a safety standpoint to restrict your personal social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to the highest possible privacy settings. On Facebook, this means restricting your posts so that only people you’ve “friended” can see your photos, statuses, and videos. On Twitter and Instagram, this means privatizing your accounts so you have to approve people to follow you before they can see your posts.
To get a solid idea of what your employer’s insurance company can possibly discover about you with a quick online search, Google your name and look at the results that generate. If you spot anything in your search results that you suspect could get your workers’ comp claim denied, it’s advised to contact a work injury lawyer who can help you sift through your problem information and address it accordingly.
However, this doesn’t mean you should delete old posts of yours from years past. Anything you post online can come back to be used against you, and deleting old posts can actually do more harm than good. Often sites like Facebook and Twitter store backups of the data their users upload, and this seemingly deleted data can be requested for use in court by a claims adjuster or other legal party. Also, deleting old posts of yours may bring up suspicion as to what you may be trying to cover up about your workers’ compensation case.
What to Do If You’re Filing For Workers’ Comp
You don’t have to take a full social media hiatus during the process of filing your work injury claim, but you should exercise caution when messaging friends in apps, posting photos or statuses to Facebook, so nothing you upload gets taken out of context and warped in favor of your employer. Don’t delete old posts without first consulting a work injury lawyer. Throughout this process, they will truly be the only party you can trust.
As long as you stay prudent about your online presence while filing your workers’ compensation claim, use a doctor recommended by your employer and file within 14 days of your workplace accident, you should be able to earn the compensation and medical bill assistance you rightfully deserve for being hurt on the job.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
You have the right to appeal your claim if it’s been denied. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury at work, you need an experienced team of lawyers who will take the time to understand the nuances of your case and offer professional, expert advice.
The Law Offices of Goldberg & Wolf are ready to assist you in every stage of the workers’ compensation process, and we will fight for you. We proudly service Cherry Hill and the surrounding areas. Contact us today at (865) 651-1600 for a free consultation or if you have questions regarding your case.