Social media has always been an invasive space. Intrusive permission requests by different apps on our phones make our online and offline lives incredibly easier to track and study. Listening in to keywords and studying our behavior points, Facebook, Instagram, and even Google make their business models more precise and our online lives more exposed.
And sometime soon in near future, we are even going to have the metaverse. A virtual reality where our avatars will be able to conduct full lives: learn, talk to our friends, shop, and even conduct meetings.
If you are workers’ injury claimant and have recently filed a lawsuit, your social media accounts are the breeding ground for the evidence against you. Your employer, insurance company, and any relevant authorities will happily trawl around your social media to find photos, comments, and check-ins to try and prove that your injuries are not as serious as you claim them to be.
As one of the best workers compensation attorneys in Philly, following are a few ways we have witnessed where social media proved to be especially problematic to a workers comp case.
Few Ways Social Media Can Hurt Your Comp Claim
- Access to Social Media Accounts
By default, all of your social media accounts are public. Whenever and whatever you post online can be viewed by anyone who lands on your profile. This includes your employer, insurer, and legal authorities.
The court considers social media a permissible evidence. So if you recently suffered an accident and claim that you are unable to come to work due to serious injury, your employer can produce your social media post where you are skiing or playing ball with your nephew and refute your claim.
If the evidence is strong enough, your social media post would be sufficient for the court to dismiss your claim.
- Access to Private Social Media Accounts
Even your private social media accounts are not as private as you think. If your employer or the insurer can convince the court that your private account has posts or information that are relevant to your injury claim, the court may grant them access to your private social media.
Sure, it doesn’t happen in every workers’ injury case but the fact that it happens should be enough caution to you.
What if You Aren’t on Social Media?
For your social media to work against you, it is immaterial if you are active on it or not. Even if you are not on social media, friends and family may share posts about you, pictures of you, or even tag you in their posts, pictures, or videos. All of this content may be permissible in court if the opposing lawyers succeed in convincing the court.
The reason why social media can be a real cause of trouble is because the legal system gives importance to the relevance of the evidence, not the source of it. As long as the evidence was collected within legal means, the fact that it comes from social media doesn’t impact its permissibility on that basis alone.
Relevance plays a key factor.
Plus, the court also considers the fact that whenever you post anything on social media, you do it with the intention of sharing it with others. So the court may rule that the information was strictly not a private issue to begin with.
What You Can Do About It?
While the prosecution can invade your social media privacy, there are things you can do to ensure it doesn’t result into any hurdles in your comp case. If you have got a competent Philadelphia workers compensation lawyer working for you, they would typically ask you to take these necessary steps to avoid any unwanted surprises.
- Don’t Accept Friend Requests
As a standard practice, most Philly workers comp attorneys warn their clients against accepting new friend requests on social media. If you think your injury claim is going to be contested by your employer or the insurance company, keep strangers out of your social media.
This includes friend requests from strangers as well as people you may know. Sometimes, an investigator may try to gain access to your private social media account by sending you an innocent friend request.
Therefore, as a preventive measure, the moment you start thinking about filing an injury claim, start taking your social media activities seriously. Do not let anybody in who hasn’t already been there.
- Change Your Privacy Settings Immediately
We’ve talked about courts granting opposing attorneys access to your private social media. But that should not mean that you give up your claim to privacy altogether. Take the necessary steps to make all of your social media accounts private. Implement the highest and strongest privacy settings offered by the relevant social media.
These actions will indicate to anyone paying attention that you expect a certain level of privacy when you conduct your life on social media, and take active steps to keep your privacy intact when online.
Compared to an open/public social media account, these actions will be more helpful for the court to realize that not all of your social media life is open to public scrutiny, and the opposing council cannot be given a blanket access to your digital presence online.
- Don’t Delete Anything
It may be your first instinct, but it’s one that you should resist.
I am sure we can all remember a day in 2009 when we posted something on social media that we now wish we hadn’t. But deleting it now may weaken your injury claim. Even if it is remotely relevant to your injury now, the opposing attorney may present it as an example of you trying to change the narrative. Courts usually do not take kindly to such attempts.
Therefore, soon after you decide to pursue a workers compensation case, start taking your social media seriously. Immediately amp up your privacy settings on social media, but refrain from deleting anything, whether you think it’s relevant to your injury or not.
It’s paramount that you are not seen making active alterations to your digital history. Because as an expert CRPS lawyer in Philadelphia, I can guarantee that it’ll only go one of the two ways. Best case scenario, the judge looks at a deleted photo or a recently edited caption/comment, and considers it an effort to conceal the truth or present a false story to the court, and dismisses your workers comp case.
In the worst-case scenario, you may be tried for the criminal offense of destruction of evidence and be put away to jail or pay hefty fines.
Therefore, leave your past alone on social media, and only focus on enhancing its security and privacy.
- Limit Your Social Media Posting
If you are an active social media user, being asked to use it passively can be a lot to take. Most Philadelphia workers comp attorneys advise their clients to really go low-key on social media after their accident/injury incident. And I agree with them.
During your period of healing and recovery, an active and carefree depiction of life on social media can be confusing to the court and may not work too much in your favor. On the other hand, too dark a portrayal may also not work, so just remain low-key. Limit your number of posts, avoid sharing personal photos or videos, and generally keep a low profile.
This will give your lawyer a chance to handle your compensation case more effectively in court, without worrying about what may be on your social media.
- Don’t Post About Your Accident or Comp Claim
While it’s okay to tell your friends and family through social media that you recently had an accident, try not detailing the extent of it on social media.
For the whole time your workers comp claim is out into the open, treat your social media as something that is constantly being watched by the insuring company, to try to find anything that they can use against you.
For example, if you have had an injury and you post a video about it, analyzing different aspects of it, whatever you say may be used by the opposing council to minimize the effect of your injury or distress. That severely limits the impact of a compensation claim and may deprive you of medical care, financial compensation, and employment benefits that your lawyer might otherwise had been able to win.
- Ask Friends and Family to Not Post About You
You may be a private person on social media or have no presence on those platforms at all, but your friends and family might.
Some of them may tag you, post about you, or even check-in with you online. All of that is potential evidence.
In 2019, during a workers compensation case hearing, the contesting employer provided in court photographic evidence of the injured worker participating in a basketball game. Even though the worker’s own social media account was set to private, his friends had tagged his pictures and that’s how other people were able to see them.
The claimant denied playing basketball after his injury and stated that the pictures are of an event that took place prior to his injury.
This prompted the employer to request the court to grant them access to the worker’s private social media account so the matter can be resolved. The access, first denied, was eventually granted, and the relevant evidence was discovered.
Therefore, if you want the legal process to run its due course and your lawyer to be fully able to protect you and your interests, it’s important your social media doesn’t turn out to be an adversary.
Ensuring your friends and family are not posting about you or talking about you online is an important step in that direction.
- Talk to Your Lawyer
Your workers comp lawyer is your staunchest ally in your fight to get you the benefits and relief you need to get back on your feet after a workplace injury.
Whether or not you believe your social media is relevant to your injury claim, listen to what your lawyer has to say on the matter, and discuss a strategy about how to handle it for the duration of your comp case.
In addition to keeping a low profile online, and limiting your social media activity, any other suggestions from your workers comp lawyer must be considered seriously for you to win your case.
If your employer or insurer tries to deny your workers comp claim on the basis of a social media post, a competent attorney will still be able to come up with a set of solutions. If you have suffered any injury or accident at work, talk to a lawyer today to get the most appropriate legal help you need.