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Do your actions on and off the internet jeopardize your workers’ comp benefits?

Facebook has made founder Mark Zuckerberg a multi-billionaire but it has cost injured workers thousands of dollars in their workers’ compensation cases. All too often, an injured worker will post pictures of himself on Facebook – or one of the other social media sites – dancing, playing a sport, or engaging in some other activity that is inconsistent with him being disabled and unable to perform his job. This can significantly weaken the person’s workers’ compensation claim. Let’s say that the injured worker testifies before a workers’ compensation judge that his back injury causes him to limp, requiring him to use a cane, and he is unable to perform his job which entails standing several hours a day. If he then posts numerous pictures of himself dancing at a night club or playing basketball with his friends (or makes a comment such as “Had great time dancing last night” or “Enjoyed playing basketball over the weekend”), this is very likely to cause the judge to reject the person’s testimony as incredible and rule against him. How can a person participate in a vigorous activity like dancing or playing basketball but claim he cannot walk without a limp and needs a cane?

So if you have a workers’ compensation claim – either your claim has been accepted, or your claim has been denied and a petition has been filed on your behalf — we urge you not to post any pictures or make any comments about your activities throughout the duration of the claim. If you have posted pictures or comments, remove them immediately. Posting pictures on a social media site cannot help you and can only hurt you in your workers’ compensation claim.

Another trick that insurance companies have up their sleeves to try to cut off an injured worker’s benefits is surveillance. Whether you know it or not, an insurance company may hire a private investigator to go to your home and discreetly videotape your activities. While investigators cannot commit a trespass by entering your home, they can videotape you pulling trash cans to your curb, mowing your lawn, or shoveling snow in your driveway. They can also follow you in your vehicle and into public places like stores. So if you carry heavy pieces of wood out of Home Depot and lift them into the back of your truck, that could be videotaped. Sometimes, the surveillance will last for several days; other times, they will conduct surveillance for a few days, take a break, and then so another round of surveillance a month or two later. The lawyer for the insurance company will submit the DVDs of the surveillance to the judge and may present the testimony of the investigator or investigators who shot the surveillance to describe what you were doing when they videotaped you.

As with pictures or comments posted on social media sites, surveillance can destroy an injured worker’s case. If the injured worker testifies that she cannot bend over and tie her shoes, but is videotaped spending an hour shoveling a foot of snow from her driveway, her workers’ compensation benefits will be in serious jeopardy.

We’re not saying that if you have a workers’ compensation claim, you have to be a hermit and never leave your home. But if you tell the judge and your doctors one thing concerning your activities and ability to function, but the surveillance and social media sites tell a different story, you are at a significant risk to lose your benefits.

If you have injured yourself at work and have questions about surveillance, posting on social media sites, or any other aspect of your claim, please call Pearson Koutcher Law right away. One of our experienced and highly skilled workers’ compensation lawyers will answer all your questions and represent you in your claim.

Call Pearson Koutcher Law to Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.

Pearson Koutcher Law
1650 Arch Street
Suite 2501
Philadelphia, PA 19103

(215) 627-0700

Bethlehem Office serving the Lehigh Valley
528 Maple Street,
Bethlehem, PA 18018

(484) 294-4090

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