Social media surveillance
In our digital age, social media permeates so much of our lives. We often check our social media platforms several times a day, and perhaps add a picture or comment without giving it much thought.
If you have an ongoing workers’ compensation claim, these habits can be damaging. Your social media presence can seriously impact the success of your workers’ compensation claim. Insurance companies routinely check public social media accounts for evidence that the claimant’s injuries are not as serious as they claim.
What is the solution?
It is important to take precautionary steps and be smart with your social media presence. There are several steps you can take:
First and foremost, it is extremely important that you are honest regarding the extent of your injuries and activities you cannot perform. Similarly, you should always follow your Doctor’s orders.
Second, ensure that your social media profiles are private. Investigators cannot impersonate someone you may know and “friend”, “add” or “request” you on your social media platforms. So, if your accounts are private, investigators will not be able to access any public information from your social media.
Third, reduce your social media presence while you have an ongoing claim. This reduces the chance that you will say or do something that might be misconstrued and negatively impact your case.
Fourth, inform your family and friends that you have an ongoing claim and that you must be very careful not to jeopardize your claim. While you can control your own social media accounts, you obviously cannot control those of others. Investigators can use posts your family members or friends make on their public accounts. Even if you are very careful not to post potentially problematic materials on your own profiles, a video taken and posted—for example—by your cousin of you jumping on a trampoline could be damning.
Finally, consider your claim before you partake in any activities. Be conscious not to do anything that could be construed negatively by the insurance adjustor or a workers’ compensation Judge. Ask yourself, “how would this look to the insurance company or to a Judge?” and “Would this activity make my condition appear to be less serious or even non-existent?” If you are at all apprehensive when asking yourself these questions, err on the side of caution. You don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize your ability to receive the benefits you deserve.
This should relate to all aspects of your life while your claim is ongoing. In addition to social media surveillance, insurance companies also routinely collect video surveillance. While the insurance company is not allowed to harass you or follow you to your private residence, they are permitted to film you in public locations like the supermarket, train station or park.
We realize that this can be frustrating. You want to go for a short hike on vacation, or volunteer at a soup kitchen. But the logical question the insurance adjustor and Judge will ask is, “if he/she can do that, why can’t they work?”
For some examples on how social media surveillance has been used against claimants, see this this interesting infographic from an article titled “Facebook Has a New Friend: Disability Insurers” from Bloomberg News.