Some of the leading causes of personal injuries suffered in Florida are work-related accidents. Whether it's electrocution on a construction job or a trip-and-fall in the lunchroom, there is no limit to the type of personal injuries you can suffer on the job. Further, it is reported that those who work multiple jobs have an increased risk of injury overall.
As a means of reducing litigation for work-related injuries and ensuring that employees are compensated for their lost wages, worker's compensation insurance, often referred to simply as “worker's compensation,” is a Florida state-mandated insurance policy employers are required to carry to cover their employees after an accident that occurs within the “course and scope” of employment. For example, if you were injured on your commute to work, even though you were on your way to your job, your injuries would not be covered by worker's compensation. However, if your employer calls and asks you to pick-up some supplies for the office on your way to work, and you are injured while doing so, this would be covered by worker's compensation insurance.
Florida Worker's Compensation Law
It should be noted that worker's compensation insurance will cover your injuries regardless of who is at fault for the accident, so whether you were negligent and caused the accident or your employer failed to take proper safety measures to protect you at work, you are still entitled to medical benefits and lost wages from worker's compensation. Under Florida law, worker's compensation is intended to facilitate an employee's quick return to the workforce.
As such, your employer and/or his worker's compensation carrier will be monitoring your medical improvement to determine whether you are able to return to work or need to continue receiving benefits. Florida worker's compensation requires that, in order to receive benefits, the injury suffered must manifest itself or create a disability that is established to “a reasonable degree of medical certainty.” The accident suffered at work must also have been a “major contributing cause” of the injury, which the law defines as more than 50 percent responsible. It is under these requirements that social media can be friend or foe.
Injury Thresholds for Worker's Compensation
Because worker's compensation is intended to assist you in returning to the workforce as soon as possible, this threshold may be different depending on the type of work you perform. For example, if you are an office worker and you slip on spilled coffee in the office kitchen and break your leg, you may only be out of work for a few days to treat and recover, as such an injury will not keep you from performing your job. However, if you are a landscaper and you trip and break your leg at work, this may keep you out of work for months, as walking is necessary in order to perform the vast majority of your duties. Your employer's worker's compensation carrier is aware of these differences, and as such, it will monitor your ability to perform the following activities during your recovery:
Lifting and carrying;
- Laying, and
This is where social media can have a substantial impact on your benefits. Let's say that you work for the post office loading and unloading packages over 10 pounds when you injure your back on the job. You claim that as a result of your work injury, you can no longer lift or carry anything over two pounds without great pain. However, while you are out of work and receiving benefits, you post a picture of yourself holding your son, who is 30 pounds. It seems innocent enough, but you claimed that you could not lift or carry anything more than 10 pounds when you applied for compensation. If your employer sees this photograph, you may be in danger of losing your benefits. Especially if the case is contested and your employer has an attorney, always assume that they are monitoring your social media accounts for evidence that you are not suffering from the injuries as claimed.
Course and Scope of Employment
Another means by which social media can affect your worker's compensation claim is if there is evidence that you really did not suffer the injury while at work. For example, an investigator for the insurance company may actually go back through your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account history to see if you posted about a previous injury to the area claimed. For example, two months before you injury at work you may have posted that you injured your knee while on vacation skiing. If you simply “tweaked” the injury while at work, but you are claiming that the primary cause of the injury was from the work accident, your social media account may prove otherwise, and your benefits may be cut-off.
Social Media and Privacy
Studies show that close to 2/3rds of social media accounts are “public,” meaning that postings, such as photos, tweets, and status updates, are visible to anyone who searches for them. If you make your profiles and postings public, this information can be used against you during litigation and may be submitted as evidence to cut off your benefits. On the other hand, if you take advantage of privacy settings on your social media, an insurance adjuster is not permitted to “hack” your account and bypass such measures to obtain protected photos and information. Nonetheless, because social media is generally geared towards public offerings, if a friend shares your photo because such is permitted and the insurance adjuster obtains such from a public posting, this may also be used against you. It is important, therefore, to always assume a posting is public and to consult an attorney if you believe past posts may be interpreted in a manner that could affect your worker's compensation benefits.
Contact a Clearwater Worker's Compensation Attorney Today
There are many personal injury attorneys in Florida, but not many of these attorneys are up to date on the different social media platforms, their privacy settings, and how insurance providers are using social media to cut off your benefits. If you believe social media may affect your benefits or simply want advice on using such accounts safely while your worker's compensation claim is pending, contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today. They are your premier worker's compensation lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area, and they understand the intricacies of social media and worker's compensation claims. Contact them online or at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900