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Don’t undermine your Workers’ Comp case via Facebook

Posted on December 15, 2016 in Workers' Compensation

We keep seeing examples of injured workers harming their workers’ compensation claims by saying or posting the wrong things on social media –on Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Twitter and other sites.

These are not always cases of fraud. The people in question are often genuinely injured and entitled to the coverage they seek. But by posting publicly they are making it easy for insurance companies to question the seriousness of their injuries.

This is what’s happening. Workers’ comp insurance fraud investigators have easy access to these social media sites. For insurance companies it is much cheaper to scour your online postings than it is to park a detective in a car outside where you live, to monitor your actions.

What’s wrong with this picture?

These are the kinds of anomalies they look for:

  • A Ventura lumberyard worker hurts his back. But then he posts an Instagram picture of himself on vacation holding a 10-pound walleye pike.
  • A Reseda dance instructor who also hurt her back is unable to work for four months – but within that period posts a Facebook video showing her standing upright at a charity benefit.
  • A van detailer in Encino files for a claim for repetitive stress, which is challenged because he has mounted images of acrylic paintings on his website.

Were these individuals committing fraud? Possibly. Or possibly there was more to these stories than met the eye, especially after the insurance companies put them in the worst possible light.

The truth is, when you are injured and do your usual work, life still goes on. It is not hard to find images or descriptions of you doing things that can be made to look suspicious: taking a car trip, riding a bike, entertaining, carrying a laundry basket, lugging groceries, starting a home business, setting up a Christmas tree.

Investigators know how to make the mildest activity look like you are training for the Olympics. And they take advantage of geo-tagging capabilities to pinpoint the time and date of events. It’s very easy to make you look like a faker.

Remember also that investigators aren’t medical professionals. They don’t know if your problem prevents you from holding up a fish. They are just casting innuendo against your claim. Only your doctor knows what you can and can’t do.

This electronic surveillance activity saves insurance companies many millions of dollars every year. It is not hard to argue that their interpretations are unfair or uncharacteristic. But if you don’t have a good lawyer, you are likely to be discouraged and withdraw your claim.

Workers’ Compensation fraud does happen

But just as often, people who have been suffered significant injuries play into the hands of insurance companies by giving the wrong insights into what they are capable of.

People who have filed a claim need to realize that they are likely under online surveillance, and that insurers will use anything they see or read to deny you your benefits.

Social media is great. It connects us to friends and allows us to tell our stories and show ourselves in the best possible light. We don’t want you to be paranoid online or back away from the activities you enjoy.

Just remember – there are people watching who don’t have your best interests at heart. Don’t give them ammunition to hurt you!