The defense is trying to find evidence (surveillance) to prove their case just like you are compiling our evidence (medical) to prove our case. Be honest and you shouldn't have any problems. If you say you can't do something to a doctor, you shouldn't be able to do it and thereafter publish it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Good luck with the remainder of your case.
Yes they will. I tell all clients to get off or severely restrict Facebook
If this information has been helpful, please indicate by providing feedback that the answer was either "helpful" or "best answer" as appropriate. Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Connell is a Colorado attorney licensed in only that state. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question.
It's much more likely to be an investigator than an attorney or adjuster. If you are represented, the defendants would certainly be prohibited from having their agents contact you directly. There are also some old cases which restrict deceptive practices by investigators (the famous one involved an investigator who dated an applicant and filmed her at an amusement park using a hidden camera), but if an investigator's intern sends you a friend request using his real name, and you are not represented by counsel, there's probably nothing explicitly illegal about it. Beware who you call your friends.
Case law has not been fully (or really, even partially) developed in the area of social media. Facebook's policy is to resist producing documents when issued subpoenas, invoking an obscure law regarding electronic storage that was designed to protect data protection services, not social media websites. However, there has been at least one case where Facebook was ordered to produce all posts from a person's page - even material that had been deleted.
Under traditional rules of discovery, anything you have ever posted on a social media website has by definition already been disclosed to a third party, and therefore is probably subject to discovery if there is a showing that it is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
Checking Facebook is a very common investigative tactic in WC cases. Sometimes they will even send an investigator out to talk to your neighbors trying to find out if you are working somewhere under the table while out on Temporary Disability. You likely will have an investigator follow you from doctor’s appointments or some other location they know you will be at and even may have an investigator sit outside your house. This is all common. I’ve never heard of an investigator sending a fake friend request but it would not surprise me.
Do not work under the table while you are collecting Temporary Disability. Do not tell the doctor that you cannot do things you really can do. Always tell the truth at your deposition. They may try to catch you in a lie but if you tell the truth, you have nothing to worry about.
Lastly, if they have hired an investigator, they are probably going to hire a attorney. If you do not already have an attorney, it is probably past time to get one.
Of course you should not have a problem by the insurance company's investigation as long as you are truthful. That being said I can assure you that insurance companies will do everything within their power to gather information to use against you. They can even take otherwise innocent information and attempt to twist it into something which may appear to injure your case. Ultimately the information is turned over to the QME or AME Dr. for review and is Considered in your determination of permanent disability and right to future benefits. When you bring a Worker's Compensation case to some extent you must realize that your privacy rights may be infringed upon by insurance company investigators.
It would be utterly unethical for a lawyer on the other side to try to friend you. It would also be unethical for the lawyer to ask someone to friend you. That does not mean, however, that it isn't happening. Be very careful about who you friend. Watch your privacy settings.
I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation and social security disability. This post is not legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in this post. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.
The insurance company will do anything in its power to undermine your claim; but, you can glean this point from the other answers. I want to raise one additional point regarding eDiscovery. Attorneys have been concerned about the impact that Facebook posts and pictures might have on their clients' claims for years. However, the concept of spoliation of evidence (i.e., destruction / deletion of relevant evidence to a legal proceeding) has been held to apply to Facebook, which means that a judge may impose monetary sanctions when an attorney instructs and/or an applicant deletes certain posts / pictures on Facebook. In addition, spoliation of evidence raises a presumption that the destroyed evidence was adverse to the party that destroyed it. Speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney about how you can best protect your claim and maintain your privacy. Good luck!
The answer provided herein does not create an attorney-client relationship and is only meant as general advice based on the limited facts presented. My general advice is based on California law and not of any other state in the United States or outside thereof. Contact an attorney immediately to ascertain all rights' you may be entitled to for optimal results and to avoid the loss of any rights' for failure to comport with any statute of limitations.
I've had defense attorneys show me photos of my clients obtained from Facebook accounts. Some investigation companies will also check the accounts of friends and relatives for damaging photographs. So long as you're not engaging in activities that one with your claimed injury would be unable to do, you probably have nothing to worry about. Video surveillance is also quite common and legal when done in places where one would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
I've seen workers comp cases denied based on information obtained from facebook pages and in particular based on posts to injured worker's wall page by friends. These issues complicate the claim and hurt your case. I suggest cancelling facebook account until a few moths after claim is resolved unless the information it contains and is posted has no way of being made to look you bad when taken out of context. In your case considering your suspicions canceling facebook page would be a reasonable precaution.
Never share anything you wouldn't want them to see. Surveillance is very common. But you have nothing to worry about if you aren't doing anything wrong. Surveillance will ruin your case if you say you are bedridden and they catch you out doing physical activity. But if in your recorded statement or deposition you tell them you still do your regular activities like shopping etc then you have nothing to worry about. You also shouldn't do anything outside of your work restrictions.
Social Media is a gold mine for insurance companies. We all smile for the camera no matter how much pain we are feeling. We write about fun and happy events. Anyone who just whines about their injury wouldn't have any FB friends left. The insurance company would love to show the court that side of your life and claim it is the real picture.
I want my clients to have a positive outlook on life. It is mentally healthy, but it runs the risk of misuse. To reduce your exposure, without eliminating Facebook:
1. Set your posts to Friends Only (not friends of friends). Your friends might not be as paranoid about approving odd friend requests.
2. Do not accept any new friend requests, without confirming with the requester by email or phone that it really is your friend.
3. Do not post photos or videos.
These steps do not eliminate the risk of abuse by the insurance company, but I find it to be a reasonable balance for workers' compensation claims.
Be very limited to who you friend and what you post. Don't lie about what you can or can't do. But posting vacation or outside activities, or how you are feeling, may be a bit too far. Until your case is resolved, you may want to step back from Facebook and other social media.
This answer, however, is not legal advice for your specific case. Every case is different, and settlement amounts or verdicts vary from case to case. Each case is different and an attorney can only give you quality legal advice when he or she understands the facts involved in your case. Feel free to call our office for a FREE consultation at 770-577-3020.