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Social media being used to disprove workers’ compensation claims

Whether someone works in an office or on a construction site in San Diego County, there is always some risk of injury. Just recently, a work related accident occurred at a Tesla plant up by San Jose. According to CBS SF, a casting press in the plant failed. The hot metal from the low-pressured press came into contact with three workers, burning them. One employee suffered the most with severe burns to his hands while the other two employee's injuries were considered minor.

Not all workplace injuries are from an accident

While in the above story, it is clear that the employees were injured through an accident, sometimes workplace injuries are not so obvious. Employees may have been exposed to dangerous chemicals, injured themselves through repetitive actions, contracted a disease connected to their work environment, or suffer from psychological illnesses as a result of their job.

Any kind of workplace accident, injury, disease or illness can leave an employee unable to work. When this happens, workers' compensation is there to provide financial support. Once a person's claim for benefits is approved, workers' compensation can pay for medical care, psychological treatment and even a portion of a person's former earnings.

Social media and workers' compensation claims

Last year, the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled that social media pictures could be used in a workers' compensation case. According to ABC News, a man had posted pictures on Facebook, showing him in a social scene, drinking. The man had injured himself in a workplace accident and had asked for further compensation to cover medical care over the injuries. The state's compensation commission denied that request and used the photos as evidence to show that he was not experiencing the great amount of pain he said he was in.

According to Risk and Insurance, social media is becoming a common tool in workers' compensation claims. Investigators are starting to use search engines to find information on employees and may even befriend the injured employee or one of their social contacts. Likewise, companies can make a legal request to access a person's social information in order to look for any evidence that could disprove their claim of injury.

Protecting oneself online

Employees should understand that employers and their insurance will try to either deny the claim or avoid paying out what they may actually be entitled to. Despite privacy settings on social media sites, it is important to remember that once something is posted on the internet it is no longer private. However, injured employees can protect themselves by doing the following:

  • Don't write about the workers' compensation case or make any comments relating to it.
  • When posting photos, make sure that the photos are accompanied with evidence showing that they were taken before the accident, especially if they are of physical activities or vacations.
  • Don't accept friend invites from unknown people.
  • Ask family and friends not to accept unsolicited friend requests.
  • Talk about the impact of the work accident.

Investigators are likely to use social media postings and photos in conjunction with other evidence. Injured workers can object to their data being used if they feel that their rights have been violated or a federal privacy law has been broken. Any employees who have been injured should discuss their case and their rights with an experienced attorney.


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