Social Media Use and Your Workers’ Compensation Case

August 2014

These days, many people maintain one or more social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. People use social media to stay connected with friends and family by sharing pictures and updates about their daily activities. In recent years, however, social media has begun to play a prominent role in various areas of law, including personal injury and workers’ compensation. In some cases, individuals have hurt their workers’ compensation cases by posting damaging photos or status updates to social media.

In a 2012 workers’ compensation case out of Arkansas, an Arkansas appeals court ruled that an administrative law judge was correct in allowing an employer to introduce photos obtained from Facebook of an employee at a party. The employee had requested an extension of his temporary total disability benefits after sustaining a work injury when a refrigerator fell on him. The court ruled that the photos, which showed him partying with friends, were relevant and admissible because they had a bearing on the employee’s credibility in asserting that his injury left him in excruciating pain.

Additionally, courts around the country have ruled that social media evidence is admissible in personal injury cases. In Zimmerman v. Weis Markets, Inc., for example, a Pennsylvania court ordered a personal injury plaintiff to disclose his social media user names and passwords after he posted pictures of himself riding a motorcycle, along with status updates that indicated he might not be as injured as he claimed.

If you have a social media account, it’s important to remember that anything you post on the Internet can be taken out of context. For example, a photo of an individual standing on a dance floor at a wedding may give the appearance that the person was dancing when in fact she may have needed assistance even getting out of her chair. Similarly, a picture of a person sitting in a fishing boat can make it look like he was actively engaged in fishing when he actually spent the day sitting stationary in the boat and watching others fish. Because you can never really be certain which information you share is searchable or viewable online, it is best to play it safe and to use caution when posting personal information on social media sites.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation Law

Contact Attorney Ed Keane today at (712) 234-3088 to discuss your workers’ compensation case.

This website has been prepared by Keane Law Firm for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.