Insurance companies have a new tool to catch workers trying to commit workers’ comp fraud, and it’s as close as a computer screen.
Insurers are increasingly using Facebook and other social media to find evidence that could lead to denial of workers’ comp benefits.
That word comes from the law firm of Ingerman & Horwitz, which is warning its clients who are injured workers that things they post on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube or elsewhere on the web could work against them.
“We are seeing an increasing number of cases where insurance companies and their lawyers are searching social media sites … for photos and blogs about what our clients are doing while they are recovering from their injuries,” says Alan Horwitz, co-founder of the firm.
Courts are even ordering injured workers to produce their Facebook or other social media pages for inspection by insurance company lawyers.
“In one current case, our client’s Workers’ Compensation benefits were stopped by the insurance company when their lawyers discovered he was selling personal items daily on Craigslist and eBay,” says the firm’s Bruce Ingerman. “The insurance company considered that he was earning income and therefore was no longer eligible for workers’ compensation.”
Ingerman and Horwitz see this as a bad development. “The devil could indeed be lurking in the details one chooses to post online.”
But this could be a good development for employers. Insurance companies used to send investigators to videotape injured workers who appeared to be not-quite-so-injured when they thought no one was looking.
Now, the injured workers can save the insurance companies from having to videotape anything. Their Facebook pages can show just how injured they are.