Beware! Workers' compensation Claimants and Social Media: a Goldmine for Investigators
If you have a pending workers' compensation claim, watch what you post on social media. Social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and the like, are a treasure trove for workers' compensation investigators and insurance examiners who are looking for a basis to discredit you and your claim.
Watch what you post on social media!In any workers' compensation claim that the workers' compensation administrator for the employer or its insurance carrier anticipates high exposure, including a period of Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, expect that the insurance adjuster or her investigator will search any social media profile or account that you have, including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Don't post photos or write about activities that are inconsistent with the disabilities you are claiming.
Check your privacy settings on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts.
Do not exaggerate your injuriesEvery workers' compensation claimant has a duty to be truthful and not exaggerate his or her injuries. To protect against invalid or fraudulent claims, insurance administrators often check a claimant's social media profile. All too often, claimants post photos of themselves performing activities inconsistent with their disability claims. For example, a person who claims that they have trouble walking even short distances without having to elevate their legs should not be found on Facebook running 10k races or found online soliciting sponsors for a marathon she is planning to run.
Do not work while collecting or claiming temporary total disability statusIf an injured worker is receiving medical TTD benefits, meaning the injured worker is receiving a check every two weeks from the insurance administrator for two-thirds on one's pre-injury average weekly wages, that person cannot work. Period. All too often, a claimant will tell me before a deposition or trial that he has been working "under the table," often receiving payments in cash by a family member or friend who owns a business. "Under the table" pay is still pay and must be reported to the workers' compensation administrator and offset from payments paid by the insurance administrator. The person working under the table is also disregarding the findings of the treating physician who placed the person off work for a medical reason.
If a claimant is proven to have worked while receiving TTD payments, the claimant not only ruins his claim but also risks a criminal prosecution for insurance fraud.
Obtain legal representation before providing a statement to the insurance adjuster or investigatorMany claimants unwittingly hurt their claims by providing a detailed statement, often recorded, to the insurance company's investigator without having an attorney. The thinking seems to be that by showing cooperation, the insurance adjuster will look fondly on that person's claim. If an injured worker retains an attorney, then the insurance company cannot contact the injured worker directly. If the claimant's statement is still wanted, it must be conducted in the form of a legal deposition with the claimant's attorney present. An experienced attorney will object to improper questions and also advise the injured worker during preparation that the person should not testify inconsistently with activities that might have been filmed or disclosed in social media.