Posted on December 27, 2018 in Workers Compensation
When you file a workers’ compensation claim, your claim will be sent to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. While some insurance companies tend to view most workers’ compensation claims as legitimate and will only investigate those for which there are significant indicators of fraud, others are extremely scrutinizing of all potential claims and often look for a reason to deny employees.
For those insurers who take a more suspicious approach, there are a variety of means available to investigate whether an employee has a legitimate claim. The insurer may question witnesses around the time the accident or injury occurred, or they may request medical records to verify the claim.
Some insurers also try to catch employees in the “act” of behaving in ways that are contrary to their report of injury. For example, an investigator may follow the employee to see if they are more physically active than they claim to be. More and more frequently, insurers are also turning to social media to investigate employees.
The Risks of Social Media in Cherry Hill
For many of us, social media is a part of our everyday lives. We post videos of hanging out with our friends, hiking in the mountains, and attending parties. Following someone closely on social media can often give you an intimate look into their habits, activities, and relationships.
For workers’ compensation insurers, social media is therefore fertile ground for investigating whether an employee’s claims of injury actually line up to their daily living. Where there are inconsistencies, this may give the insurer a basis to reject a claim.
This is most common when employees claim injuries that they allege makes it impossible for them to work and significantly impacts their day-to-day living. For example, where an employee claims that he or she is suffering from severe knee pain or ongoing back pain.
If that employee is then posting pictures on Facebook or Instagram about a bike ride they recently took or chasing after their grandchild at the park, insurers can use this evidence to argue that the employee’s injuries are not as severe as they claim and they therefore should not be entitled to a disability status or ongoing benefits.
Likewise, where an employee claims to have significant mental health injuries as a result of some type of workplace injury, but is observed spending time out with friends, having a good time, or otherwise living a seemingly normal life, this can be used against them.
While we all know that social media portrays only one side of the story, for the purposes of a workers’ compensation investigation, the side portrayed on social media may be the only side that matters. Many insurers will use such evidence as definitive proof that an employee is not entitled to the benefits he or she seeks.
Avoid Having Social Media Impact Your Claim
Once social media is posted online, the potential damage to a claim usually has already been done. This means that employees must be proactive about their social media rather than reactive.
Perhaps the best approach, although the most difficult one, is simply to avoid social media entirely. Employees do not risk the possibility that their posts will be misinterpreted if they are not posting at all, and employees avoid providing any evidence that can be used against them.
For many, however, this approach is a difficult one to take. You may not want to suddenly stop using social media entirely for fear of missing out on connections with friends and loved ones.
In that case, perhaps the most important first step is to make your account “private.” Employees with potential injuries or pending workers’ compensation claims should also very carefully scrutinize what they post and consider how it might impact their claim. Feel free to post those cat pictures, but consider holding back on photos of the race you finished or your recent tennis match if you fear they could be used against you at a later date.
It is also important for employees to realize that scrutiny of social media doesn’t stop simply because a claim is approved. If your injuries continue to give you trouble over time and make it difficult for you to return to work, insurers may continue to monitor your social media to determine if you are really as hurt as you continue to represent that you are.
New Jersey Attorneys Advising You on a Social Media Approach
If you are an employee who is considering pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or if you have already filed one, it is important to understand the impact your social media can have on the investigation of your claim. Or if your claim has been denied as a result of social media, you may want to know your options for appeal.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, our workers’ compensation attorneys have seen first-hand the impact of social media on the workers’ compensation process and can assist you in developing a strategy to protect your rights.
Here are some of other common issues we successfully handle for our clients.
• The insurance company’s initial denial (rejection) of a workers’ comp claim based on a number of different reasons.
• The insurance company’s decision to not pay (or discontinue payment of) medical expenses based on numerous reasons.
• The insurance company’s decision regarding temporary, permanent, partial, and/or total disability.
• The insurance company’s failure to correctly calculate an injured employee’s average weekly wages.
• An insurance company’s low-ball settlement offer.
• Unlawful termination of employment because of a work injury.
The outcome of your workers’ comp case will largely depend on the skill of your New Jersey work injury attorney and the quality of your legal representation. Your attorney’s level of education, experience, track record, legal abilities, and reputation matter!
Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ compensation. Since 2010, the firm has been named among Best Law Firms in America® in Tier One Atlantic City for Workers’ Compensation. Frank Petro has received the highest rating (A/V) from Martindale-Hubbell, the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials (the A/V rating is only for lawyers considered the top in their field). Since 1995, Mr. Petro has been named every year on the Best Lawyers in America® list for Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, he has been named to the NJ Super Lawyers® list for 15 consecutive years in the practice area of workers’ compensation, and is also certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Workers’ Compensation Law Attorney, the highest specialty certification available to workers’ compensation attorneys in New Jersey.
Don’t take chances with your workers’ comp case – in litigation, there are no second chances. For more information or a free consultation with one of our workers’ comp attorneys, contact us online or at (888) 675-7607.