If you’ve been injured or made ill at your place of work, and if you subsequently seek workers’ compensation benefits, you should have the advice of an experienced Marin County workers’ comp lawyer.
What steps should you take if you’re injured on the job and you need worker’s compensation benefits? Why is it important to be advised and represented by a good workers’ comp attorney? How do insurance companies gather evidence to deny a workers’ compensation claim?
If you’ll continue reading, those questions are about to be answered in this brief look at social media, workers’ comp, and your rights.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU APPLY FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?
When you submit a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you need to be discreet. The insurance companies that provide workers’ compensation coverage usually scrutinize injury claims closely. They’re looking for any plausible reason they can use to reject an injury claim.
That’s why you need to exercise some discretion after you apply for workers’ compensation. You need to be honest, and you need to tell your healthcare providers, supervisors, and your employer’s HR department the same, simple, consistent story about how you were injured.
Beyond those parties that you must speak with regarding your work-related injury, you probably shouldn’t discuss any details of your workers’ comp claim with anyone except your attorney.
WHY IS DISCRETION ABOUT YOUR CLAIM SUCH A NECESSITY?
Discretion is imperative in these circumstances because anything that you say – if the insurance company finds out about it – could be twisted and used against you to deny your workers’ compensation benefits.
And it’s not just your conversation that needs to be guarded. You need to be careful on the internet, too.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have radically transformed how we speak to each other. In 2018, over two billion monthly Facebook users were active in 214 countries around the globe.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA INTERSECTS WITH THE LAW?
Social media is now a central part of millions of people’s lives. It has changed the way we do business and even the way we do politics. It has also had an enormous impact on the law.
Police detectives who investigate crimes scrutinize the social media posts made by suspects and witnesses. Divorce lawyers comb through social media accounts for evidence that they can use on behalf of their clients – and against their clients’ spouses.
Even the immigration authorities check into social media accounts for evidence of immigration fraud. It’s nothing new. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been monitoring social media since 2007.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF YOU POST THE WRONG WORDS OR PICTURES ONLINE?
If you are seeking workers’ compensation benefits in California after a workplace injury, you can expect that your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company will be closely inspecting your social media accounts and anything else that you might be posting online.
Just like anything you say, anything that you post online could be twisted and used against you to deny your workers’ compensation benefits.
In the past, insurance company investigators conducted surveillance on those suspected of submitting fraudulent workers’ comp claims. When someone who had filed an injury claim was captured on camera playing basketball or shoveling snow, that person’s claim was rejected.
WHAT ARE INSURANCE INVESTIGATORS LOOKING FOR?
Surveillance is still sometimes conducted, but social media today makes it unlikely that someone with a camera will be “tailing” you if you file for workers’ compensation benefits. Instead of following you, it’s easier for an investigator to look at your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Investigators frequently find evidence on social media sites that can raise considerable doubt regarding someone’s workers’ comp claim. Even a comment like “It’s a wonderful day” is something to be avoided if you seek or receive workers’ comp payments.
Insurance investigators look online for comments, videos, photos, or anything else that may be used to cast doubt on a workers’ comp claim.
Of course, insurance companies save money when they don’t make payouts, so if there is any suspicion that your injury is not as serious or as extensive as you are claiming, you will probably become the target of an insurance investigation.
DO THE PRIVACY SETTINGS HELP?
Insurance companies and insurance company lawyers know how to make your innocent words sound – and your innocent pictures look – incriminating and suspicious. If they succeed, your claim for workers’ compensation benefits will be rejected.
You should take advantage of the privacy settings on your social media accounts – it can’t hurt – but those settings don’t really offer full protection. An insurance company’s attorney can seek a subpoena to obtain “private” online content and even content that you’ve deleted.
While you have a pending claim for benefits, and while you receive workers’ comp benefits, presume that your social media accounts are being monitored. Don’t post any pictures of yourself, and don’t mention or refer to the injury or the worker’s comp claim.
WHAT OTHER TRICKS HAVE INSURANCE INVESTIGATORS USED?
At the same time, be suspicious of new friend requests. “Friending” someone gives that person easier access to more of the content you post. Don’t accept new friend requests from strangers when you claim or receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Insurance lawyers and investigators will look at more than your own social media accounts. The accounts of your friends may also be examined for anything that can be used to deny your claim.
Surveillance isn’t entirely obsolete, either. It’s smart to avoid anything that might be misinterpreted or misperceived as strenuous physical activity.
WHEN TO CONTACT A WORKER’S COMPENSATION ATTORNEY?
If you sustain a job-related injury, you should have the advice of an experienced workers’ comp attorney from the very beginning. Let your lawyer help you when you apply for benefits. That way you’ll avoid the common mistakes and misunderstandings that delay benefit payments.
An experienced Marin County workers’ comp lawyer regularly fights on behalf of injured California workers and knows what it will take to obtain the benefits you need. Your lawyer will also ensure that you obtain the full medical care that you’re entitled to by California law.
If your claim for workers’ compensation payments is rejected, a California workers’ comp attorney can handle an appeal on your behalf. Don’t accept a denial of your benefits without putting up a fight.
Instead, take your workers’ compensation claim to a reliable worker’s compensation attorney who fights for injury victims – and for the benefits and the justice they deserve. If you need workers’ compensation, a good lawyer’s help is your right.