Facebook and Your Workers Compensation Claim.
One of the hottest topics in workers compensation is the use of Facebook and other social media by Workers Compensation claimants to defend against workers compensation claims, or bring Insurance Fraud claims against injured workers.
What once seemed like harmless fun and a great way for friends to stay connected with one another, has now become a goldmine for workers compensation carriers to secure damaging evidence on an injured worker to defend against or even undermine a once legitimate claim for workers compensation.
When an individual signs up for a Facebook profile, the default privacy setting offers no privacy and the information, pictures and videos that you post are available to anyone to see. Even if an individual is not a "friend" more than likely your postings and pictures are open to the general public if you have not taken the time to reset your privacy settings. The workers compensation carriers have become more and more savvy in finding ways to refute injured workers claims of on-going disability and Facebook and other social media sites now offer even more opportunities.
More and more cases are popping up across the country wherein the Workers Compensation Carrier has used an injured workers' Facebook posts to defeat their case. A woman in NY who was collecting workers compensation benefits was sentenced to 3 years' probation after pleading guilty to stealing $8,975 in workers compensation benefits while employed. Her boasts on her Facebook Page about her wonderful job as an apartment complex manager was what started the Insurance Fraud Investigation. An IBM employee who was receiving benefits for depression was "caught" by the Insurance carrier who used pictures on her Facebook page that showed her frolicking on a beach and enjoying herself in a bar as evidence that she was not as depressed as she alleged.
In my practice alone, I have come across several instances of Investigative companies who used to just perform surveillance, hiring individuals whose sole job it is to scour the internet for damaging information on injured workers and the easiest way is to sign on to their Facebook Page. Photos and videos can be downloaded and taken out of context to make it look like the claimant is more active than they tell their doctor or the Defense Medical doctor. The frequency of postings on the "Wall" can be used to show a more active lifestyle or ability to perform a clerical position, or at least ability to use a computer in a work like setting. Even the most innocent post or photo can be taken out of context by an overly aggressive defense attorney and used against you.
It is typically my recommendation to clients to either discontinue the use of Facebook or other social media during the pendency of their claim or at the very least make sure their privacy settings on their page do not permit people who are not "friends" to view their posts or photos. More importantly do not accept a friend request from a stranger no matter how innocent they appear, as it may be an insurance investigator trying to view your personal information.
If you have not done so already, take a moment to check the privacy settings on your page and make sure only your "true friends" can see you. You never know who else has been or is watching.
LEGISLATIVE ALERT - HOUSE BILL 808 SEEKS TO INCREASE EMPLOYER CONTROLLED MEDICAL TREATMENT TO 180 DAYS
PA Supreme Court Approves Certification for PA Workers Compensation Attorneys
PRESS RELEASE - Richard A Jaffe, Esq is now a Workers Compensation Law Certified Specialist
WCRI Study finds PA WC Benefits to be amongst the highest of 16 State Analyzed