Employees injured while performing duties in the course of their employment are entitled to recover compensation in connection to their injuries. This is what is commonly known as workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a social benefits program that relieves employers of their liability from common lawsuits involving negligence. In exchange, the employers become responsible for medical costs, lost wages for the employee and other associated costs for rehabilitation regardless of whether or not the employee or the employer was at fault.
Under South Carolina law, injured employees are entitled to all necessary medical treatment that is likely to lessen an employee’s disability. This can include:
Injured employees are also entitled to compensation at the rate of 66 percent of their average weekly wages based on the four previous working quarters prior to the injury.
Insurance Fraud is a Costly Problem Across the Nation
While workers’ compensation offers a security net for those who are injured while working and is a great boon to employees, unfortunately, many people see the workers’ compensation system as an opportunity to collect a paycheck without working. These people fake injuries on the job and commit fraud on workers’ compensation funds. As a matter of fact, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, workers’ compensation fraud costs are estimated to cost as much as $7.2 billion a year.
Online Fraud Investigations Are Becoming the Norm
Due to the high cost of workers’ compensation fraud, investigations into suspicious claims are frequent occurrences. In days past investigations into workers’ compensation fraud involved a lot of legwork and hours of surveillance. However, these days investigations can be completed almost entirely online. Social media has quickly become the most valuable tool for investigators.
Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allow individuals to share a lot of information online regarding almost every single aspect of their life. While the information that gets shared may be harmless and uninteresting to most people, those investigating fraud claims find every little piece of information valuable when it comes to denying claims or looking to prosecute someone for fraud. Investigators for insurance fraud will look to your social media for:
- Photos of people engaging in activities that they should not be physically able to do;
- Anything that indicates a person has been to the gym, playing sports, or engaging in exercise that is not related to physical therapy;
- Any posts, pictures or videos that involves a person lifting objects or engaging in activities that are prohibited with specific injuries;
- Information and statuses that indicate that a person is working another job or is enquiring about employment at other places; and
- Anything that indicates that a person’s condition or injury is not as severe as claimed.
Social Media Consequences Are Not Just Bad for the Guilty
Fraud is not just morally wrong but illegal as well. It can have serious financial, legal and criminal consequences for anyone found to be engaging in it. While social media investigations have helped investigators fight insurance fraud related to workers’ compensation claims, the information that can be found on social media can have a negative impact on innocent parties as well. The information that gets shared on the internet may contain a lot of information but not tell the whole story. An innocent claimant for workers’ compensation could see complications with their benefits due to misunderstandings with their social media posts. Sharing statuses that you are feeling better may mean something entirely different to you than it does to an investigator. Being tagged in old photographs does not provide an accurate snapshot of your condition now, but shows up to other people as having recently occurred.
If you are filing a workers’ compensation or any other type of insurance claim, it would be wise of you to avoid social media while you go through the process and are recovering. It may be an uphill battle as many visit social media websites several times a day but the consequences for failing to avoid social media websites are much worse than not keeping up with your social circles. Even if you believe that your information is private and not accessible, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Do not share your medical history or anything pertaining to your injuries or insurance claim online. Take the extra step and let your friends know that you do not want to be included in their posts either.
South Carolina Does Not Tolerate Workers’ Compensation Fraud
Committing fraud in order to collect workers’ compensation is a serious crime and constitutes insurance fraud. When people commit insurance fraud it causes everyone’s insurance premiums to rise and makes the whole insurance system more expensive as well as increasing the prices that people pay for goods and services. The South Carolina Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Division investigates claims of insurance fraud, including workers’ compensation fraud. In addition to this, South Carolina law has a mandatory reporting act that requires anyone with knowledge or reason to believe that a person has made a false statement or misrepresentation when it comes to an insurance claim to report the false claims to the Office of the Attorney General. In fact, the Office of the Attorney General maintains an Insurance Fraud Hotline number in order to report suspected fraud. Alternatively, anyone with information about fraud can file a report online.
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you are seeking to initiate a workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with a lawyer familiar with handling workers’ compensation claims. You need to know the range of benefits to which you may be entitled to and whether or not there are any immediate steps that you should take to protect yourself and your claim. The Greenville, South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at David R. Price, Jr. P.A. can help you understand your rights and discuss the process and consequences of filing a worker’s compensation claim on your behalf. Contact us today for a free case review.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.