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Injured Workers Must Use Caution on Social Media

Workers in Western New York are at risk for injury on a regular basis. Construction workers face the dangers of falls or being crushed by heavy equipment. Factory workers may be exposed to toxic fumes or repetitive stress injuries.
For example, in an accident that occurred last year, one worker was injured and another was killed in an explosion at a wastewater treatment plant in Central New York. The workers were making repairs to the tank when the welding equipment they were using sparked an explosion. The surviving worker suffered third degree burns.

In cases like this, workers will file for workers’ compensation benefits and may also file lawsuits against a variety of third parties. Employers pay for workers’ compensation insurance, and if a worker is hurt or becomes sick on the job, the benefits cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, employers and their insurance companies may dispute an injured employee’s claim.

Insurance companies may try and gather evidence to prove a worker isn’t injured. One method is checking an injured employee’s social media profile. Employers may dispute an injured worker’s case, and the insurance companies may use photos or videos taken from social media profiles to discredit an employee.

“An injured worker needs to be careful what they post. If an insurance company sees pictures on a social media profile and it’s not indicated when the pictures were taken, the photos could be used against the employee to prove they are not really injured,” Jeffrey Freedman, Managing Attorney, stated. “Pre-accident photos should include text that indicates they were from an earlier time. Additionally, social media profiles should be kept secure.”

Insurance company examiners regularly check social media profiles. “More often that not, an insurance investigator will independently check social media pages. Often an employer or co-employee will report something they see on a social media page,” Freedman stated. “It’s definitely an issue and anyone who files for benefits based on a physical condition should be aware of it.”

By being careful what they post on social media, injured workers lessen the chance of causing complications for themselves or providing evidence for an insurance company to deny their claim.

“Employers regularly check social media profiles when screening employees for hire. It’s very likely that employers and insurance companies will check these same profiles to try and discredit an employee’s claim. If unsure whether a social media post may hurt your case, it may be advisable to consult with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney,” Freedman said.