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Workers' comp investigators are using Facebook, Social Media

All too often, injured workers seeking compensation are confronted with a confusing workers' compensation system that they do not understand. The system can become even more frustrating when the employer or the workers' compensation insurance company plays dirty tricks. The newest variety of dirty tricks involves using an injured worker's blog, Facebook page and other social media in an attempt to disprove an injury.

For attorneys representing workers' compensation insurers and employers, the internet is a gold mine of information. Attorneys will routinely check major search engines for any information they can get on an adversary. Within the past few years, it has become increasingly common for workers' compensation insurers and employers to use social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to investigate a claim.

What you post on Facebook can come back to haunt you. When seeking to disprove and injury, employers and workers' comp insurers can use photos or posts that show a claimant participating in sports and other activities to demonstrate a claimant's physical activity level.

It is important to note that many social networking sites require a friend request to be approved before anyone else can view your information. Ethical rules prohibit attorneys from initiating contact with an opposing party when that person is represented by an attorney. This prohibition applies to any form of contact, including friend requests on social media websites.

Even without a friend request, workers' comp investigators will often attempt to access social media information through the discovery process. With a valid court order, most social networking sites will give up profile information and pictures.

If you have questions about a Maryland workers' compensation claim, an experienced workers' comp attorney can help.

Source: Risk & Insurance, "Social Media Is Becoming a Workers' Comp Investigative Tool," 2/14/2011

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