A couple of days ago an injured worker who was bullied at work shared her story with regards to the circumstance investigation report from WorkSafe (and agent) into her workcover claim. To her horror she found out that included in the report were comments from a post she had made on her Facebook page around the time of the investigation!
WorkSafe investigations uses Facebook
The injured worker’s story in her own words
I recently requested a copy of the circumstance investigation report from my work cover claim.
After the usual delays from the insurance company I finally received it.
I wasn’t that surprised to find out that all of my work colleagues had not supported me, and had protected the person who had harassed and bullied me.
The comments were to do with me asking my friends and family whether they knew anything about how to deal with harassment in the workplace and if anyone knew a good lawyer.
I remember at the time feeling very paranoid and threatened and after posting the comments I immediately removed them, so they could not have been there very long, at all.
I don’t know who was watching my Facebook page, whether it was my employer or the investigator, none of that information was included in the report.
Using Facebook and Social Media as tools in WorkCover investigation
Let’s face it, we live in an interconnected world. Add to that the fact that as injured workers, most of us are socially very isolated, because of our physical injuries (i.e. inability of get out of the house) and/or because of our [too often] acquired secondary psychological injuries acquired because of the way we have been treated by our workcover agents or employers.
Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, personal web pages, blogging, Foursquare, Instagram or whatever else may pop up, it all makes for a source of evidence for the pathetic workcover case manager, and hired private investiagtor to dig up some dirt on a so called questionable claim.
But how can the case manager use evidence in social media to their sick advantage?
Obviously the first answer thing those creeps will look for is for any evidence that may contradict the level of disability an injured worker may claim.They will look for pictures (yeah, even old ones!), statements, conversations and will even snoop around in your friend’s social media accounts to see what they have to say or show about you.
However, rest assured that when so called “evidence” is found, it is not always helpful to the defense of a case. It will certainly depend on where it is found, what site it is found on, when it was posted, and what the actual activity may have been.
It seems everyone -and many injured sods- has a Facebook page these days to stay in contact with friends, family, groups, etc. So what are some red flags for the sad workcover case manager?
According to our research and “insider information”, case manager will first look for an injured worker’s Facebook page. If it is not blocked or marked private, it will be used in several ways.
Our “informant” tells us that it is well known amongst the vultures that “people [injured workers] typically will give statements about daily activities, sometimes multiple times per day, all while posting pictures, giving locations, and talking about life in general”.
A “strong example” our informant says would be something along the lines of an injured worker “stating to be totally disabled, but there are several dates of them posting pictures to their Facebook page out running errands, fishing, even going to music concerts, etc.”
In such cases, the former case manager says, “there several defenses to shoot “impairment” claims down”.
“If the case goes to litigation, this may or may not help, but it certainly will raise the question of doubt against the injured worker’s statements”, she says.
Whilst it is not an air-tight case since anyone can type anything in as a Facebook “status”, it can certainly help begin a surveillance operation, our informant says.
Also there have been more “subtle examples” which have jeopardised claims. For example, if an an injured worker claims to be in “terrible pain”, but then posts on Facebook for example that “they spent all day packing and moving house…” – “well.. that can also be used to show that – obviously- the injured worker cannot be in terrible pain if they’re able to pack/move house”.
This get’s abused a lot, our informant says. Sometimes these kind of statements and even pictures from Facebook may be shown to treating doctors who are asked to comment. This can be detrimental.
The former case manager says that it is best not to have a Facebook page at all whilst you are disputing a claim or litigating (i.e. common law damages claim). Or “that you need to be very mindful of what you write”. For example, in the case of an injured worker who is in severe pain, they ought to write on their Facebook page how it really is, for example “my family/friends spent all day with me helping packing to move house”;”I am trying to pack but only manage 3 items a day…”.
Twitter has become more and more popular and is also used a lot for snooping and spying by workcover agents!
It is also used to give updates on whatever it is happening at the present time. One can also post pictures or videos of activities or events, and “if the injured worker is posting pictures of going to see music concerts or anything remotely active, it is recommended to use surveillance to find out what the injured worker is up to, if anything”, says our informant. Again, injured workers ought to be very careful and mindful of what they tweet.
This reminds me that not that long ago we DM’ed (Direct Messaged) an injured worker who tweeted that “he had been cleaning the pool all day”. Whilst he had just been fishing out some bugs with the pool net, suffice to say that we reminded him NOT to tweet about his daily activities, as it could be totally misinterpreted.
Known as the “Facebook for photographers” Instagram started off as a place where photographers could view other photographer’s pictures, and give advice or critique of whatever picture was posted.
Instagram is now used similarly to Facebook and Twitter by insurance agents. A top place to gather picture evidence of whatever the injured worker is posting, “and this evidence should then be used to start surveillance”.
This social media service is not exactly the same as those listed above, but it may be a start, says the former workcover case manager.
“If an injured worker is listed as belonging to a (or several) physical, active groups, it may lead to more evidence”.
Each fact found can lead to bigger and better evidence that can help the case, she says.
MySpace is similar to Facebook, but perhaps not as popular. However, past posts on MySpace can lead to gathering more evidence, says our informant, ad therefor it is still widely used to snoop around.
“If you strike out on finding pages relative to the injured worker, but their MySpace page talks about restoring old cars and racing them at the local track, this is a great starting point….”
Personal Web Pages
Through a Google search, it is very simple to find a personal web page “to check every now and then for some helpful evidence”.
Again the case managers will be looking for concrete evidence that shows an injured worker is being more active than claimed.
“Just like with a personal website, a Blog can be a page where a person talks about their personal daily life. This may not be substantial evidence, but it can be used to start an investigation” says the former case manager.
But just how SICK is this, folks!
This is a social app used to “check-in” at certain locations, telling others what you are doing. ” If an injured worker” is very active on this website, it is used to connect the dots on daily activity”.
“It is also often used to tip off the case manager (or the hired private investigator) on places the injured worker visits regularly”.
[post entirely inserted by T on behalf of WCV --> in case any of you, dear workcover case managers/agents are snooping and trying to make a case, wcv is really in so much pain that she is unable to enter even a blog post on her own]