It’s often said that legal issues and social media should not mix, in the context of compensation claims, there is of course a lot at stake. In this podcast, Bourke Legal Senior Associate, Jessica Prasser, discusses the risks of social media and compensation.
Dan: It’s often said that legal issues and social media should not mix in the context of compensation claims, there is, of course, a lot at stake. To learn more about the risks of social media and compensation, I’m with Bourke Legal Senior Associate, Jessica Prasser. Jess, how can what you put on social media actually affect your workers’ compensation claim?
Jessica: Social media has a really interesting relationship with someone’s workers compensation claim, and we’ve actually seen it be used in a variety of different ways throughout the claim process. The main thing is the insurers can actually try and use it to give a bit of a distorted view as to what an injured worker can and can’t do. So, as we know, social media often doesn’t reflect real life, but the insurers can try to use it in ways that may not accurately represent how a person is doing on a day to day basis.
Dan: And are social media posts disclosable in New South Wales?
Jessica: So, no Dan, social media posts aren’t disclosable in New South Wales, so you don’t actually have to disclose any posts or photos you post to, for example, Facebook to the workers’ compensation insurer whilst going through the claim process. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t actually mean the insurer won’t get a hold of it, so just something to really think about. Also to note that these social media posts are disclosable in Queensland.
Dan: Jess, in practise, do insurers use social media to decline workers’ compensation claims?
Jessica: Yes, we have seen insurers use social media in the past to decline people’s workers’ compensation claims, so they don’t do it in every case. However, we have seen in previous matters where insurers get an investigator to go through a client’s Facebook for example and extract photos, posts and the like to use that then in the Personal Injury Commission or the courts to try and argue that a person is fit to do more than they are alleging due to what is on their social media.
So we can often argue against this by saying, look, this doesn’t properly represent this person’s life on a daily basis. However, it’s important to note that we as lawyers don’t have control over how much a judge puts weight on that material. So that’s just something for clients to think about when they’re making posts while going through the workers’ compensation claim process.
Dan: Is your social media safe from being found by the insurer Jess, if your profile is actually set to private?
Jessica: So not necessarily. We obviously cannot give advice on people’s privacy settings on their social media. However, what we can say is that we have had previous clients tell us that they have their Facebook profiles, for example, set to private, but an investigator for the insurer has still accessed some of their posts and photos on their profile. So just something, again for people to think about when making posts.
Dan: And Jess, what are the main things that I would need to think about regarding social media and my workers’ compensation claim.
Jessica: I think the main thing people need to think about is the fact that social media can easily be taken out of context and people’s posts and photographs, et cetera, can be given a different light by the insurer, and they can try and use that to argue things that may not actually be accurate, but because they’re put online, as we know, sometimes that can be used to not properly reflect how your everyday life is.
So it’s just really important to note that when you’re putting something up online, you need to be comfortable that you’re happy for the insurer to see it and not be concerned before posting that photograph or that post. The other thing to think about is I think it’s important to talk to your friends and family if you’re going through the workers’ compensation claim process and just get them to have an understanding about how insurers might use what they tag you in on their profiles against you in your workers’ compensation claim.
So I think it’s just important that you and all of your family and friends are on the same page in relation to your social media and obviously try and put things on private as much as possible. But obviously, like we’ve advised in this podcast, there’s no guarantee that, you know the insurer is not going to still get access to it.
Dan: Jess, if anyone has got questions, they can reach out to you at Bourke Legal?
Jessica: Yes, definitely. I would encourage anyone who has any questions about their workers compensation claim, whether that be in relation to social media or in general, we’ll be able to provide them with professional advice on the best way to move forward.
Thanks for listening. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Bourke Legal on 1300 026 875.