Like other insurance companies, workers’ compensation insurers are always on the lookout for claims fraud. Until recently, when they suspected fraud they had to rely on private investigators who conducted physical surveillance of claimants. This was costly, time-consuming, and didn’t always deliver satisfactory results for insurers.
With the rapid spread of social media however, workers’ compensation insurance companies have a new and powerful tool to identify suspicious claims. Private investigators can use Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and other social media platforms to:
- Verify or disprove the facts of the loss
- Obtain evidence of a claimant’s physical activities before and after a work accident
- Disprove disability status
- Obtain background information on the claimant’s character and habits
- Obtain a photograph to properly identify a claimant prior to physical surveillance
What does this mean for injured workers?
Use of Facebook and other social media platforms can be habit-forming for healthy people. During a period of temporary disability, social media enables an injured person to stay in touch with friends and work colleagues.
But after a work injury, you should be very careful about posting on Facebook and other social media platforms. That picture of you skiing or playing softball could be used by the insurance company to limit your benefits. Your love of heavy metal music expressed on Facebook could be used by the insurance company deny your hearing loss claim. If social media evidence shows that you are working for another company while claiming temporary disability benefits, you may have to repay restitution and you could even be charged with insurance fraud.
During your period of disability, you may find solace by reaching out to your friends via social media. But here is some advice you should heed:
- Don’t post anything while you are receiving benefits or appealing your case.
- Adjust your social media privacy settings to limit access
- Be wary of accepting new friends on Facebook. Those “friends” could be insurance investigators.
- Ask your family, friends, and acquaintances not to post anything concerning your injury or disability.
You should also speak with a workers’ compensation attorney who can provide additional advice concerning your social media use.