Social media helps people connect and share their lives with friends and family members. No longer are popular sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter merely for young people. While just five percent of American adults were on social media in 2005, the Pew Research Center reports that nearly three quarters of people use at least one social media site. While use of these platforms is common and unproblematic for the most part, it is important for injured workers to understand that your social media posts could undermine your workers’ compensation claim.
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle workers’ compensation lawyers are strong advocates for the rights and interests of injured workers and their families. Our legal team wants to ensure that everyone has the information that they need to protect themselves. Here, we explain the most important things that you should know about the risks associated with posting on social media while your work injury claim is in progress.
Social Media Posts Can Be Taken Out of Context and Used to Downplay Your Injuries
Social media posts are not automatically protected by law. Anything you choose to share on social media can be used as admissible evidence in a workers’ compensation case, a personal injury case, or other legal matters. This means your posts could potentially be seen by your employer, an insurance adjuster, or someone from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
Unfortunately, a social media post can also be taken out of context and used to paint a misleading picture. As an example, imagine that you suffered a significant back injury on the job. You filed a workers’ compensation claim to receive medical care and time loss benefits. During your recovery, you post a picture of yourself smiling while taking a walk in the park on a bright sunny day.
A claims manager could try to use that post to argue that your injury is not “that bad.” After all, you are out there enjoying a nice day. Of course, that one social media post fails to show the whole picture—that a doctor recommended walking to help with your recovery or the pain you experienced on the ride over to the park. Nonetheless, it is best not to give L&I or your employer any excuse to deny your claim.
Enhanced Privacy Settings are Helpful—But They Offer No Guarantees
You do not want your social media account to undermine your workers’ compensation claim. A common question: Can I protect myself by changing my privacy settings? The answer is possibly—but even the strongest privacy settings are not a full guarantee of protection. Information that you share on the internet can spread—potentially to people who are not part of your friends’ and family’s network. If your workers’ comp claim goes to litigation, attorneys for L&I or your self-insured employer, through legally authorized discovery, can request a full and complete copy of all of your social media accounts, including all pictures and posts.
Best Practice: Limit Your Social Media Posts Until Your Claim is Resolved
With social media and workers’ compensation, the best practice is to exercise an abundance of caution. You do not want your social media posts to jeopardize your claim or your benefits. While your workers’ compensation claim is active, it is strongly recommended you limit your social media posts. This is especially important if your initial workers’ compensation claim was denied or you are otherwise in a dispute with L&I or your self-insured employer.
The bottom line: Remember, it is easy for social media content to get taken out of context. A post that you think is harmless could still cause problems. Do not let Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or any other social media platform lead to a potential fraud order or benefit denial in your workers’ compensation claim.
Contact Our Seattle, WA, Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Help With Your Case
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Washington workers’ compensation attorneys provide trustworthy, results-driven legal advocacy to injured workers and their families. If you have any questions about workers’ compensation and social media, we are more than ready to protect your rights. Contact us today for a free, completely confidential initial consultation. With legal offices in Seattle and Everett, we serve communities throughout the entire region, including Bellevue, Tacoma, Renton, Federal Way, Lakewood, Redmond, Bremerton, and Vashon Island.