Mar 18, 2013

Judge Rules that Facebook Photos May be Used as Evidence

The Arkansas Appeals Court ruled that an injured worker’s Facebook photos may be used as evidence in his Workers’ Compensation case. The injured worker suffered a hernia when a refrigerator fell on him while he was at work. He was compensated for his medical expenses and received temporary total-disability benefit for over a year. However, he requested an extension to his benefits due to additional surgeries. An administrative law judge denied his claim for an extension of benefits.

The injured worker then appealed the Judge’s decision to deny the extension of benefits. He sought to exclude from his case photos of him “partying” which were posted on social media outlets. His legal team argued that the photos are unrelated to his medical treatment. Ultimately, the court decided to allow the photos in as evidence and upheld the ruling denying his extension of benefits.

Courts across the country are wrestling with issues surrounding the use of social media. It is extremely important that injured workers’ must be aware that social media can harm their case. I advise my clients to close their Facebook page, MySpace or Twitter accounts while their workers’ compensation claim is pending. Any photo or post could be used and misinterpreted by an insurance company or administrative law judge to the detriment of the injured worker. Although there has been no direct ruling in Georgia regarding Facebook photos, it is only a matter of time that the Courts in Georgia will adhere to a decision similar to Arkansas.