Insurance investigators: How does social media impact a workers’ comp claim?
Love it or hate it, social media has become an integral part of society. It’s everywhere, and it has a strong impact on all areas of life, including health, politics, romance, education, and the law. Even the small portion of society that is not active on any social media platform still feel its impact in the way that it is used by others.
If you have been in a workplace accident and have filed a workers’ compensation claim, you can bet that the insurance company will be all over any social media that you take part in, searching for evidence that contradicts your claim.
What are insurance investigators looking for on social media?
If you have a workplace accident and you file a claim for workers’ compensation, then you aren’t dealing with getting money from your employer to cover your injury. Instead, you are dealing with receiving money from an insurance company. Any time you are faced with filing a claim against an insurance company, you should be prepared for a fight.
The secondary activity of an insurance company is to provide a safety net for individuals and companies in case of an accident. They do this so they don’t find themselves in financial ruin if something should go wrong. The primary activity of an insurance company is to undermine its secondary function by looking for any possible way out of ever having to pay a claim.
One common method of achieving that primary function has become using social media to undermine a claimant’s story. People even post their work injuries on social media, which can jeopardize a workers’ compensation claim.
If you are hurt and you file a claim, an insurance investigator will scour through all of your accounts and the accounts of your friends and loved ones looking for anything they can use to deny it. Here are some examples of things that could hurt your case.
Pictures showing you performing activities contrary to your injury
This is one of the most common ways in which a workers’ comp claim gets dismissed due to social media inquiry. If you claim not to be able to walk due to a broken leg and then post pictures of yourself playing football, the investigator is going to throw the red flag.
Other ways in which your injury could have occurred
Say you make a post on a social media site about how you are going to be working on your roof during the weekend. Then on Monday morning, you tell your employer that you fell off a ladder in the warehouse, and you file a workers’ comp claim. That is going to look highly suspicious to the investigator assigned to your case. Even if that is the true story, unless you either have witnesses, or there is video surveillance of the accident, the timing would not play to your advantage.
Incriminating statements about your injury
This may sound like a bit of a no-brainer, but don’t post any messages along the lines of “Workers’ comp money coming in! Next stop Vegas!” Even if it was a joke and you are not planning a trip to Vegas, the message could be used to cast doubt about the severity of your injury.
How to protect yourself online
There are many things you can do to protect yourself across social media during an insurance investigation. The following are a few of the best steps to take.
Change privacy settings
If your social media accounts are set to public, change them to the highest privacy level. Keeping your pages private is generally a pretty good rule to follow for everyday life as well. Public accounts pose many risks aside from protection in a workers’ comp claim.
Generally, if your account is set to private, you will be safe from the prying eyes of an insurance investigator. However, there have been rare cases where a judge granted an insurance company access to a private account. Even if your profile is set to private, be careful what you post.
Stop using your accounts
Discontinuing the use of your accounts while involved in any sort of legal affair is always a good call. Just like with your Miranda rights of “everything you say can and will be used against you,” everything you post can and will be used against you. Even if you think it is innocuous, you can never be sure how a post might be interpreted. The best move is to take a break and unplug.
Request that friends and family don’t mention you
Just as your own posts can be used against you, the same goes for the posts of others. Requesting that your friends and family leave you off of their social media during your trial can help protect you from letting the insurance investigator get a look at your life through the eyes of another.
Don’t delete posts or accounts
While you don’t want to add anything that could be used against you to the internet, trying to hide things that are already there can be just as harmful. If you remove posts or delete your accounts, it makes you look like you have something to hide. This not only hurts your credibility but can leave you vulnerable to charges of destruction of evidence.