Can Social Media Be Used Against You in a Workers’ Comp. Case in Arkansas?

If you are filing for Workers’ Compensation, the insurance company and your employer might do everything they can to try to find an excuse to reject your claim.  Often, this comes in the form of a claim that your injury did not actually happen at work, and that it is therefore not work-related.  One way they might do this is by scouring your social media.

Social media posts and photos posted online can all be used as evidence against you in your injury case.  In the case of posts on social media, there is no need for the insurance company to meet rigorous evidentiary standards used in court proceedings, but even if the case does go before a judge, many posts would still be admissible evidence that could hurt your claim.  As such, it is best to keep off social media while your case is ongoing.

For a free review of your injury case, call our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation lawyers today at (479) 316-0438.

How Insurance Companies Use Social Media to Deny Workers’ Compensation Claims in Arkansas

When you file a claim for Workers’ Compensation, it is first dealt with by your employer and their insurance company.  If they deny your claim, then you have various rights to appeal it to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission and, potentially, to a court of law.  When an employer or insurance company decides a claim, they don’t have to use strict rules of evidence, and can rely on their best guess instead of being held to the same rigor as a court of law.  This means social media posts could play heavily into denying your claim.

With some of these issues, our Bentonville, AR personal injury lawyers can appeal denials and have the evidence taken from social media reviewed by neutral parties or even a court, potentially reversing denials.

Denying Injury Was “Work-Related”

For an injury claim to be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, it has to be an injury that was “work-related.”  This usually means that it happened at work, but some jobs involve working off-site as well.  Therefore, it is more accurate to say that if the injury occurred while performing work duties or because of your work duties, then it is probably work-related and should be eligible for Workers’ Compensation.  The same analysis is used for work-related illnesses as well.

Workers’ Compensation insurance companies like to try to deny claims by saying the injury happened outside of work, and one of their main sources of evidence is social media posts.  These companies will scour social media posts looking for injured workers who were doing renovations on their house or posting about bike accidents so they can use these incidents as evidence that that was the real source of the injury.

Sometimes injured workers do try to pass off outside injuries as work injuries, and insurance companies deny a lot of fraudulent claims through this kind of investigation.  But this could also mean getting cases lumped in where the injury truly was work-related or even cases where those photos were years old and completely unrelated to the injury at hand.

Denying Injury is Severe Enough

Injuries only qualify for Workers’ Compensation if they are serious enough to keep you out of work for a sufficient number of days.  If a worker who is supposed to be injured tries to collect Workers’ Compensation but then posts on social media about it all being a scam, that is certainly going to kill their claim.  It is fair for insurance companies to use evidence like this, but they might go too far.

Posts showing you enjoying your recovery time might not go to the heart of whether or not your injury is serious.  A photo of you drinking with friends might say nothing about whether you can put weight on your leg, climb up a telephone pole, work an assembly line for 8 hours, or lift more than 50lbs.  In cases where insurance companies try to deny claims based on social media posts like this, they are going beyond logical conclusions and trying to deny claims without real evidence against you.

Proof of Healed Injuries

Similarly, people might post on social media once they begin feeling better during their recovery.  However, just because you feel a bit better and can resume some normal activities does not mean you are ready or medically cleared to return to work.  If the insurance company thinks you have recovered and should come back to work, they might try to use posts from social media as evidence of this.  However, this is separate from what the facts and your doctor’s medical analysis say.  Those should be true bases for deciding when you go back to work.

Is Evidence from Social Media Admissible for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Arkansas?

As mentioned, Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers and even the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission do not have to abide by the Arkansas Rules of Evidence when analyzing social media posts as evidence in a claim.  However, courts do have to take the Rules of Evidence into account.  If your case is eventually appealed to an Administrative Law Judge, the case should abide by evidence rules, which might block some but not all social media posts as evidence.

Generally, posts made by you will be admissible against you because statements by the other party in a case can be entered into evidence.  This would normally be “hearsay,” but Arkansas Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2) keeps statements by the other party out of the definition of hearsay.  That means they can be used against you so long as you said them and they were obtained legally.

Photos are not statements, so they would not be hearsay.  This means pictures can be used as evidence long as they are relevant and obtained legally.

Call Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today

For help filing your claim or appealing a denial, call our Crawford County, AR Workers’ Compensation Lawyers today at (479) 316-0438.