How Can Social Media Hurt My Workers' Compensation Claim?Social media has become a ubiquitous part of our society. It seems every person and business has an online presence, posting photos, videos, and stories about a wide range of topics and events. As individuals, we use the social media world to help us with everything from keeping in touch with friends to helping pick a restaurant for an evening out. While it is an excellent tool for keeping us connected and informed, social media also provides others with significant insight into our own day-to-day lives, and it can create unforeseen difficulties during a workers’ compensation claim. Employers and insurance companies are just as savvy at navigating the digital world, and they will investigate an injured workers’ online presence for any information that will undercut the injury claim or reflect poorly on the injured worker. If you have been hurt at work, find out how social media could affect your claim and read our tips for protecting your case online.
Understanding Workers' Compensation and Social MediaInsurance companies will do whatever they can to reduce their liability and protect their bottom line. They will talk to your family, friends, and co-workers, request medical information, and, yes, even search for you online. They are looking for any information that will refute your claims, and they may not be concerned about context. If, for example, you post a photo from a night out with friends looking happy and relaxed, they may argue that you are not experiencing symptoms of pain. Your post, they may say, proves that you feel fine, even if it only shows a brief moment and has no relation to the symptoms of your injury. Even a short post or comment that in which you mention money could be twisted to allege that you are only pursuing a claim for financial gain. Regardless of what situation prompted the online post – even if a friend or family member posted it of you – it could be used against you.
Posts About Your Employer and Social Media DefamationAdditionally, if you complain about your employer or share negative comments about them, that attitude may reflect poorly on you during a hearing. Employers and insurance companies may try to persuade the ruling body that you simply dislike your work or employer and are exaggerating an injury to spite them. It may also make you appear petty or mean. In some cases, negative talk about your employer could have more serious consequences. If you post something that is harmful and untrue, your employer could pursue legal action against you for social media defamation. Defamation is a false, published statement that injures the reputation of a person or business. If you share comments of this nature online, you can be held responsible and forced to pay the party mentioned in your post.
How to Create a Balance Between Workers' Compensation and Social Media UsageEven seemingly innocent comments or posts can have unintended and harmful consequences for your work injury claim. It is important to be especially careful with your online presence while you are navigating the workers’ compensation system. Some helpful tips to protect your workers' compensation claim and manage your social media accounts include to:
- Abstain from using social media. The most effective way to prevent social media from interfering with your work injury case is simply not to use it. Suspend or delete your accounts until your case is complete.
- Change your settings to private. Many injury victims just can’t cut social media out of their lives entirely. If this is the case, make sure your accounts are set to private, so you can control the members of your audience.
- Keep in mind, deleting a post will not make it disappear forever. Even if you delete a post, it is possible that it can still be found on the Internet. It is not a foolproof method for privacy. It is best to think carefully before you post, and avoid potentially inflammatory situations.
- Ask friends and family members to refrain from sharing photos of you. In some cases, injured workers found themselves having to explain photos and comments made by others about them. Remember, those searching for you online may find things that pertain to you but were authored by someone else. Talk to your friends and family members about their online behavior.
- Do not discuss your condition or your injury case. If you do continue to use social media, never share information about your health or the status of your claim. Insurance companies will try to use your words against you in any way possible, and it is best to avoid talk of your physical, emotional, and financial condition entirely.