There was a time when the insurance company would hire an investigator to follow an injured worker around and shoot video of her going about her day. Sometimes the investigator would follow the claimant for weeks, picking and choosing when to turn the camera on. The point of the video surveillance was to show that the claimant was exaggerating her injuries, or not following doctor’s orders. The insurance company lawyer waited until the hearing, asked many pointed questions about what the claimant was unable to do, and then pulled out the video. The questioning went something like this:
Lawyer: Ms. Smith, you told us a few minutes ago that you could not carry your son because of the pain in your back, correct?
Ms. Smith: Correct.
Lawyer: Who is that in the video?
Ms. Smith: Me.
Lawyer: What are you doing?
Ms. Smith: Carrying my son.
There may be any number of explanations for the inconsistent testimony, but there is no doubt that Ms. Smith’s credibility was damaged by the video.
In today’s world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the countless other social media platforms there is a wealth of material available to the insurance company with just a few mouse clicks. There is no need to follow the claimant around. All one has to do is search the internet.
If you are hurt at work, you need to be aware of what you put into the public domain. If you take the position that everything you put on social media is public knowledge, regardless of your privacy settings, you are better off.
For instance, posting pictures of you rock climbing could be problematic if you have a back injury. There may be a perfectly innocent explanation for the photo. For instance, it was taken a year before the injury. While this may be the case, there is a lot of pressure at the hearing and reacting to the production of such a photograph is sometimes difficult.
There are some practical tips that can help you avoid problems with video surveillance or social media posts.
Be honest about your injuries and the impact on your life. For instance, if it hurts to lift your son, you may still do it and deal with the pain. That is a much better answer than claiming you cannot lift your child.
Assume that all of the photos, videos, and written content you place on the internet and social media sites is available to the insurance company and that they will find it.
If a doctor gives you limitations, follow them. It will help you heal faster and avoid any embarrassing encounters at the hearing.
Do not delete or try to alter your posts. Sometimes the cover up is worse than the underlying act.
Contact Lawton & Cates, S.C. for all of your workers’ compensation questions or concerns.