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On workers' compensation? Be guarded on social media

Workers' comp insurance fraud costs insurers more than $7 billion each year -- so they have good economic reasons for being suspicious of some claims. Unfortunately, it's easy for legitimately injured workers to get caught up in an investigation where you're presumed to be faking until proven injured.

These days, social media is one of a workers' comp investigator's best tools -- and the nemesis of anyone receiving benefits. Before you put up that next post, make sure that it doesn't fall into either of these categories:

1. A post that contradicts your claim for benefits.

Keep in mind that everything you signed when you filed your workers' comp claim is considered a legal document and an affidavit that you're telling the truth.

The quickest way to get yourself in trouble on social media is to say anything that contradicts what you put on your claim paperwork. (Keep in mind that your "friends" can take a screenshot of your post and forward it to investigators. Some people can and will cheerfully meddle in your affairs if they think you're lying.)

For example, an Ohio woman told her employer that she took a tumble in the parking lot just outside the company doors -- but admitted on social media that she tripped stepping out of her own car at the local gas station. Someone on her page apparently turned her in and she ended up with a criminal sentence and an order for restitution.

2. A post that indicates you're better when you're still claiming benefits.

One common type of fraud is stretching out the workers' comp benefits past the point of recovery. There's a fairly famous example of someone who was caught working after he'd recovered from an apparently legitimate injury -- he appeared on TV as one of the "dancing hamsters" in a Kia commercial under a stage name despite continuing to collect benefits.

Investigators are looking for posts that indicate you're doing something that shouldn't be possible with the level of pain you're reporting -- so be careful about mentioning things like raking leaves, going shopping or posting photos of your walk in the woods. Even if you barely spent 10 minutes on your feet, investigators could take the statements or photos out of context.

An attorney can provide more information on how to protect yourself from fraud allegations when you're receiving workers' compensation.

Source: Claims Journal, "Benefits of Surveillance, Social Media in Workers' Comp Claims Investigations," Denise Johnson, accessed Oct. 05, 2017

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