Almost everyone’s using social media these days. Even my 80-year old grandma is on Facebook! However, there are special considerations that you need to keep in mind when posting on Facebook and you have an open workers’ compensation case. Claimants receiving workers’ compensation benefits need to be aware that the insurance companies will watching everything they post or share on their Facebook or social media site.
Recently, a man in Australia alleged a compensable ankle injury. However, someone on Facebook posted a video where he was shown demonstrating a karate move involving a high kick. The Australian court gave the video significant weight and the value of his claim was substantially diminished.
As a plaintiff’s attorney, I understand that most of the time, Facebook posts frequently represent a quick snapshot of a person’s life when they are generally feeling their best. However, when picked up without the full context, the photo will frequently get misconstrued.
For example, let’s say you have an accepted back injury claim. You’re receiving workers’ compensation due to your five pound medical lifting restriction. On a whim, you decide to update your public profile photo to a picture of you taken 5 years earlier while riding a motorcycle. What’s the harm? Well, for starters, a motorcycle weighs more than five pounds. Second, the workers’ compensation insurance company doesn’t know when that photo was taken and will likely assume it was taken recently. Next, the insurance company may attempt to share that photo with your doctor and also use it as support to terminate your benefits. Your attorney will then have to explain that the photo was taken many years ago but the damage may already be done. Things escalate quickly. It’s simply not worth the risk.
The Australian case highlights the need for security and privacy settings on all social media accounts. However, it also shows that in this age of social media, sometimes videos or photos may get posted by someone else and it will affect your case.