Personal Injury--Big Brother is Watching You

As a recent story in the Chicago Tribune highlighted, insurance companies and their investigators have long been utilizing social networking sites to root out potentially fraudulent claims and claimants.

There was the example used in the article of the person claiming depression as a reason to take a medical leave from her job, which triggered monthly disability payments. Unfortunately, her payments stopped when the insurance carrier used Facebook photos of the beneficiary frolicking on the beach and hanging out at a pub. Clearly, they viewed this as atypical behavior of someone so depressed as to be unable to work.

While the case is ongoing in the court system, the message is clear to all: "all the world's a stage" and we are capable of being "watched" at all times. As Matt Hasselbeck, the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks recently discovered, once you tweet, you can't delete.

Everything you put on a social networking site, whether old, in jest, or out of context, can and will be used against you by an insurance company trying to find a way to deny your claim.

While in the "good old days" insurers would commonly send investigators to follow workers who were disabled and being paid workers' compensation, or injured individuals making insurance claims, that was expensive and difficult to do. There were the occasional "gotcha" moments of the man with the back injury changing a tire, the waiter who was unable to work waiting on the investigator at the restaurant he was allegedly disabled from working at. But now, it is much easier to find "dirt" on people for insurers. Photos, written statements, tweets and the like are all available to discredit claimants.

The basic lesson here is that if you are claiming injury, make sure everything you do and say to anyone (especially in cyberspace) is consistent with this.

If you have questions about a Chicago or Illinois Personal Injury or Chicago or Illinois Workers' Compensation matter, please do not hesitate to contact Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC.

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