If you were injured at work and you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should be aware that more insurance investigators are using social networking as an investigative tool. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, more insurance companies are going online to make sure that claims are valid.
There are warnings about how to obtain social media information ethically. Investigators are told not to circumvent privacy settings to gather data. But remember that anything you put on Facebook, Twitter or even LinkedIn could be used against you in your case.
What kind of information can be used?
You may have set your privacy on Facebook so that no one except your friends can see things. However, if your friends tag you in a picture it may be seen by people you do not know. Facebook is like a scrapbook, a timeline showing your digital history, even if you have protected the data. Some things on Facebook are never really deleted.
For example, say that you have told your insurance company that you are not enjoying life because of an injury you received at work. Then you decide to go to the beach for the day and take several pictures. You are happy and the pictures look like you are having a good time. You decide to make one of these pictures your cover photo, which is available to almost anyone viewing Facebook. This image could be used to demonstrate that you are having fun and that your injury is not as serious as you previously stated.
In another scenario, you claim to have a bad back. You make a comment on someone else’s Facebook photo about how tired you are because you just went horseback riding. An investigator might be able to find that comment and use it against your case.
Your photos, comments and posts might be used to discredit you or impeach your testimony. It could also be used to demonstrate that you exaggerated your claim. The insurance company may even find witnesses through your social media accounts. You need to be very careful about what is posted on the internet when you have made a claim of an injury or disability.
You cannot erase information on the internet
Although most technology companies stand up to the government when warrants are issued for personal data stored in the cloud, you cannot rely on the courts to protect your interests. When you make a legal claim, whether it involves workers’ compensation, disability or a third-party personal injury matter, you should discuss your social media accounts with your attorney to make sure you have the best chance of success.