If you’re bored in the office you may find yourself suddenly scrolling down your Facebook feed for the fourth or fifth time today. We can check in on a computer or via our smartphone and there seems to be no limit on the things people will post. Social media has become ubiquitous in the lives of most Americans, with over 50 percent of adults posting regularly. Even businesses are using social media, and it goes far beyond just time wasting in the workplace. While you may be aware that posting too many photos from a crazy party night probably isn’t the best choice when searching for a job, did you know posting certain things on social media could negatively affect your workers’ compensation claim? In Georgia, most workers qualify for workers compensation if they are injured on the job. If you think your social media activities might hurt your claim, working with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help.
Workers’ Compensation Fraud and Social Media SurveillanceWhile most workers who file for workers’ compensation are doing so because they have legitimate injuries, there are thousands of cases of workers’ compensation fraud that cost approximately $7.2 billion annually. A workers’ compensation claim may cause suspicion if it is reported late, there are conflicting accounts of how the injury happened, and no witnesses were present. Technology makes it easier to crack cases of workers’ compensation fraud. Although, investigating fraudulent workers’ compensation claims can be expensive, social media is making the process far simpler. Investigators can use social media to find out what a worker was doing at a certain time, confirm an alibi, discover whether the worker was participating in activities that contradict their disability status, confirm policy application information, and locate witnesses. Metadata from posts of photos can also be useful for determining when and where a worker was when the photo was taken. Depending on the level of privacy of the social networking site, an investigator could discover a great deal of information through a simple Google search or a search of the social media site itself.
The Dangers of Social Media for Injured WorkersWhen an injured worker is mandated to take time off work due to an injury, it might seem like there is nothing to do put peruse and post on social media. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have users who post about nearly every aspect of their life, including interests, experiences, activities, and more. While a worker with a legitimate injury has no need to feel frightened or paranoid that their social media activities might compromise their workers’ compensation claim, they should use some restraint in what they choose to post. While there is a no-fault system in place for Georgia workers’ compensation, the injured worker is still under obligation to prove to their employer that their injuries are debilitating. During a workers’ compensation investigation, a claim is looked at carefully by employers and insurers. Certain posts on social media by an injured worker may contradict the claim they have a disability from their work-related accident. For instance, a worker who has been ordered to take time off work to rest from an injury caused by heavy lifting, could have the legitimacy of their claim questioned and benefits denied if they posted a photo of themselves engaging in vigorous physical activity during the time period. It is highly recommended that you avoid posting any of the following if you are in the midst of a workers’ compensation claim:
- Any post about you playing sports, going to the gym, or engaging in any physical exercises not related to physical therapy for your injury;
- Vacation posts or photos from when you are supposed to be in recovery;
- Posts about other jobs you are working;
- Posts showing you lifting objects or doing physical activities not allowed by someone with your injury.
Using Social Media WiselyAfter a work injury, social media can be a useful tool for remaining in contact with friends and family as you go through a difficult time. You may wish to share how your healing progress is going and ask for support. If you need to use social media, use these guidelines to avoid any complications with your workers’ compensation claim:
- Be consistent and honest about your injury and accident. If the story you told workers’ compensation authorities is different from the one you tell your online friends, a problem could arise.
- Do not talk about the financials. Posting any financial information is generally ill-advised on social media, including the outcome of a particular workers’ compensation claim.
- Don’t trivialize your injury or disability. You don’t want to make your debilitating work injury seem insignificant as this will not help you in a claim. Likewise, you would not want to exaggerate your current physical abilities.
- Never post anything relating to illegal activities.