If you are an injured worker with a (potential) serious injury application and/or a common law damages claim with a Facebook account, you really need to read this article. No matter what privacy settings you use on Facebook, you must assume that everything you post will be viewed by the workcover insurer defense lawyers. And, what’s worse, your Facebooking can also be used to demonstrate your ability to undertake an office, or computer based job!
The best thing you can do for your claim is to really stop using Facebook completely from the time of your accident through the conclusion of your claim. If you don’t, you should at least know how your postings will be used against you so you can limit their negative impact on your claim.
Facebook can ruin your workcover claim
How can my Facebook account damage my workcover claim?
Well, let’s just start with any pictures you’ve posted online. People, including injured workers prefer not to post pictures of themselves doing nothing, or of them recovering from surgery on the couch or in bed. Understandably they’ll post pictures of themselves on holiday, or outdoors, or at some party or other social event(s). So if you are claiming a shoulder injury, but have posted pictures on Facebook of yourself after your accident dancing or hugging a friend, how do you think that will look to a judge or a jury? Yeah right:“you were having a rare good day when your pain was not as bad as usual,” or “Yes, I did that, but I was in bed with pain for an entire week afterwards.” Do you really think a jury or a judge will believe these excuses?
If you are litigating your workcover claim (which may involve applying for serious injury certificate) you should not post any pictures of yourself doing anything period. If you post personal pictures on Facebook, you can be sure that workcover defense will get them.
LIST OF ALL YOUR FRIENDS
If you have a Facebook account you are also effectively sharing an unfiltered list of your friends to the workcover defense — friends who also have Facebook accounts which may even contain photos of you (some of which you may not even seen). Have you de-friended someone? Who better to contact for information that could hurt your case than a former friend?
Do you write not so flattering comments on Facebook? Have you bitched about your job, your (former) employer, boss, supervisor? Have you bitched about your own lawyer? These things are also discoverable by the Defense, who may have reservation about mentioning these embarrassing comments to potentially offended parties! Do you really think having an angry boss or an lawyer won’t damage your case?
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON FACEBOOK?
You probably haven’t thought about how much time you spend on Facebook (or other social networking sites).
The Defense will really argue that you are clearly capable of working in an office – because you can clearly write long comments/entries on your Facebook page, and 8 hours per day?! The same applies to anyone running a blog or a website! It is not the first time that genuinely injured workers have had their common law damages claims heavily reduced because of their time spent on social media!
To reinforce this very serious issue we’re using a recent injured worker’s pretty alarming letter from his solicitor (lawyer) regarding his Facebook page. The excerpt reads:
I am concerned that it [your Facebook] may become an issue during your claim for economical loss. For example, our opponents may use extracts from your Facebook, or direct correspondence to the Defendant or [your insurance company] to demonstrate your ability to undertake an office, or computer based job…..
There is no doubt that, for a lot of people, social networking has created a new way of sharing of information . However, beware that there is such a thing as over-sharing — especially when you are an injured worker.
Do not ever put anything on Facebook (and/or other social networking sites) that you would not happily hand over to your workcover insurance defense lawyers — because that is exactly what you will be doing (and yep, maybe not so happily).
Workcover and writing complaint letters
Please be also aware that Workcover insurers have been known to use letters of complaint written by injured workers against them….
showing them to doctors and asking them to give an opinion that if they can write letters can they do an office job…