Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O'Neil, LLC
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Social media and workers' compensation cases

When an Illinois worker gets injured on the job and files for workers' compensation, employers and insurance companies often conduct an investigation to make sure the employee is not committing fraud. According to the Insurance Journal, workers' compensation fraud costs carriers $7.2 billion annually so it is an issue that insurers take extremely seriously.

One new way companies are investigating suspicious workers' compensation claims is by reviewing a claimant's social media activity. Monitoring online accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is more time and cost effective than extensive in-person surveillance when trying to combat fraud. Any pictures or posts that bring a worker's injury into question may be used against them in a fraud investigation.

For example, ABC News reported on a man in Arkansas who was claiming workers' compensation for a hernia suffered after an injury at his place of employment. While attempting to induce the Arkansas Court of Appeals to grant him an extension of his benefits due to his "excruciating pain," the court ruled that pictures the man posted online that showed him consuming alcohol and socializing with his friends could be used as evidence against his claim.

The penalties for committing workers' compensation fraud are often steep and can include hefty fines and possibly even jail time. Therefore, workers in Illinois would be wise to monitor what they post on Facebook and other accounts while they are collecting workers' compensation. It may even be a good idea to avoid social media posting entirely in order to avoid raising a potential red flag.

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