If you have been injured at work and suffered a permanent injury, what you put on the internet can hurt your attempts to obtain medical treatment, out of work benefits, and even a settlement for your injuries. Insurance carriers are using the internet as an investigation tool to weed out potential fraud. If you are injured at work and have any physical limitations, it is extremely important to avoid posting any pictures or statements that contradict your injuries. The general rule of thumb I tell clients, is that you should not be doing anything you tell a doctor or your employer you can’t do or that your doctor tells you not to do.
If you have any doubts that insurance carriers and Investigators are using the internet to conduct surveillance, I recently received an e-mail notice for a seminar entitled “The Insider’s Guide to Social Media Investigations.” The seminar is designed to teach attorney’s how to obtain information on a ‘Target’ by using Social Media resources such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to investigate plaintiffs and injured workers. This is going to become more common, not less common. For many reasons, it is important to control what information is out there, whether it impacts a potential case or not.
The privacy settings for any accounts that you have should be restricted so that only people you know and trust can see your posts. If a family member or friend is posting pictures of you online, you need to also make sure the privacy settings apply to those pictures. Even posts from before an injury can cause you a problem. Let’s say you injure your knee at work, and after the accident, you decide to post a picture from a 5K race you ran in before the accident. The first thing that will happen is the adjuster will see this picture and think that you’re committing insurance fraud. It won’t matter the picture is from a year before your accident, because the adjuster will have no choice but to cut off your benefits, as the picture makes it look like you’re more capable than you are.
This free surveillance, an insurance carrier or potential employer can gather information about you before even hiring a private investigator. It goes back to my initial advice, you should not perform any activities that you are telling your doctor, employer or an insurance carrier you cannot do. This can cause a great deal of stress in your life, by disrupting medical treatment, temporary benefits, and could result in termination by your employer if there is reason to believe you have been less than truthful. The simple way to find out what’s out there is to conduct a Google search on yourself from a computer that is not already logged into your accounts, this will show you what accounts and posts are out there and then the ones that are viewable to the public. The bottom line is that you can protect yourself and your family by controlling the information that’s put on the internet.