Approximately ten years ago, I began having my clients sign a social media agreement. The agreement is that they will not post about their claim, their condition, or their functional abilities on social media. I began doing that as a consequence of a client who had a low back injury, specifically a herniated disc. Unfortunately, he or someone on his behalf posted a video on Facebook of him driving his quad on the South Coast dunes. The insurance company heard about the video, and because Facebook is not that secure, was actually able to observe the video and demanded a further copy of it. Under law in every state that I’m aware of, that is completely discoverable. If the video is taken down or otherwise destroyed, that is spoliation of evidence, and in circuit court can lead to sanctions from the court, including the dismissal of the case. In a workers comp court, it can also lead to dismissal of the case.

Recently, one of my clients had someone post a video of him wakeboarding on Instagram, and when the insurance company became aware of it, they used that as evidence for the doctor to say that the injured worker was not worthy of belief and closed his claim without an award of permanent disability.

All of this is to make sure that people understand the ramifications of interacting with other people on social media.

On Facebook, most people don’t restrict access to their page, or if they do, they restrict it to “friends of friends.” It is very easy for an insurance company to find out who the friends are, and make friend requests of a number of those people, and thereby gain access to the person’s page that they really want. My advice is simply don’t post about yourself on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter while your claim is ongoing.

Insurance companies have all manner of ways to investigate and obtain evidence that the person is exceeding their limitations. Under normal circumstances they have to hire an investigator and pay that person to sit in a van with a video camera focused on the injured worker. The injured worker saves the insurance company a lot of time, money, and effort when they take the videos or have one of their friends take the videos and post them in a public place where the insurance company can get ahold of them. It is crucial not to help the insurance company out in any way. It is also important that to the extent you’re going to continue living a life, you need to make sure that your treating doctor is aware of what you do, so that if they are presented with video of you doing it, the doctor is not ambushed with it and won’t become angry about that video.

~Chris Moore