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Investigators attempt to use social media to disprove injuries

With the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, more and more people are connected to one another. Many sites offer users the ability to upload pictures, post status updates, and interact with other users. But these sites are sometimes used for other purposes: gathering evidence.

For an employee injured on the job, dealing with an insurance company can be frustrating enough just trying to navigate the workers' compensation system. But now it seems that insurance companies and employers can resort to tactics that use social media sites to try to prove that an employee is not actually injured.

The article gives the example of an employee who suffers a back injury at work. Attorneys for the insurance company or for the employer could log on to a social networking site to find information that could be used to deny an employee's workers' compensation claim. This can include images or even statements that can be used to show an employee's ability to be physically active, implying that the employee is not actually suffering from an injury.

For employees, one important thing to do is to make sure that a physician accurately and properly documents the injury and symptoms. This can be done by seeking medical treatment as soon as possible after the workplace accident. If the injury is properly documented, that information can be used in an investigation to support the injured employee's claim.

Workers who are injured on the job not only have to deal with the pain of the injury, but also being unable to return to work. Workers' compensation benefits can help a recovering worker deal with growing medical bills until they are able to work again.

Source: Risk and Insurance online, "Social Media Is Becoming a Workers' Comp Investigative Tool," 14 February 2011

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