Sunday, February 19, 2012

Facebook May Be Used to Deny Your Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Claim

Unfortunately, some workers’ compensation insurance companies will go to great lengths to come up with a reason to deny an otherwise legitimate Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. Other insurance companies thoroughly investigate each and every claim to root out fraud. In both cases, workers’ compensation insurers routinely use internet searches to see if there is relevant information on the internet regarding you or your claim. 

Social media sites, especially Facebook, are getting some workers’ compensation claimants into trouble. Obviously, if a worker claims to have a back injury and that they can’t work, but has posted pictures of themselves skydiving after the alleged injury, that type of fraudulent claim should be denied.

Unfortunately, however, some workers’ compensation insurers are trying to use even seemingly innocent posts and pictures as a basis to deny an injured workers’ claim, or to dispute the extent of that worker’s injury. For example, if you have cherry, happy status updates, or post that you’re “doing well,” some workers’ compensation insurers are arguing that those types of posts are evidence that you’re not hurt as badly as you claim, or that you’re not hurt at all.

Adjusters are also using seemingly innocent pictures for the same purpose. For example, if an injured worker has a knee injury that prevents them from working, a photo of that worker sitting around a campfire having a beer with friends might be used to argue that you’re not hurt as badly as you claim.

The discoverability of Facebook content, or whether or not you’re required to turn over your Facebook content to the insurance company, is a relatively new area of the law. Generally speaking, courts in a number of jurisdictions have held that your Facebook content is discoverable in the context of a workers’ compensation case, meaning that you may be legally required to turn over the content of your Facebook account to the workers’ compensation insurer.

Within the last two years or so, I’ve now run into a number of Minnesota workers’ comp. cases where the insurer has demanded disclosure of all social networking sites my client belongs to. Thus far, I have yet to encounter a case where the insurer is demanding direct access to those social networking accounts, but I’m sure it’s simply a matter of time before we’re seeing that type of request on a regular basis.

Is this fair? Definitely not. I have a personal Facebook account, and I definitely don’t want everyone to see everything. The best way to protect yourself is to regularly check that you have your privacy settings set to the highest level, use common sense about what you post, and regularly monitor what other people are posting about you. You should assume that anything shared on a social media site is not private, and could be used against you. If you have something you’d like to keep private, keep it off the internet. 

Visit us at to learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, call us at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.


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