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How Social Media Use Can Endanger a Workers’ Comp Claim

A workers’ compensation claim can begin a complex and lengthy process. Especially when the injury is severe and involves high costs, an insurer’s claims adjusters will constantly search for ways to reduce their employers’ liability. Injured employees’ social media accounts are one way an insurer can investigate the merits of an employee’s claim. It’s important for the injured employee to keep their pending workers’ compensation claim in mind when they post to social media.

Insurers examine the merits of every claim

Bear in mind that an insurance adjuster’s job is to ensure that the insurer only pays for expenses that are rightfully covered under a policy. Adjusters are insurance experts. They know the cracks in a policy that might allow a claim to be partly or entirely denied. Adjusters therefore examine every claim to ensure that they tell an accurate story of the injury, its diagnosis, and how it is likely to be treated. Every insurer is vigilant against potential fraud. An employee who files a fraudulent claim will have the claim denied and may face other significant consequences, like a lost job and even criminal prosecution. Criminal fraud involves an intent to deceive the insurer, which may not be the case in many circumstances where an employee has made honest mistakes. But even an accusation of fraud can leave an injured employee without coverage.

Social media posts are a form of evidence

People who routinely use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can easily forget that their posts can reach a wide audience. Even if a user studiously controls their privacy choices, for example by not allowing “public” access, social media posts can become the focus of legal disputes, including administrative conflicts over denied workers’ compensation claims. What once was “private” may lose its privacy protection as a consequence of obligations in discovery or a subpoena. Social media posts can also reach coworkers and managers. Do not discount the possibility that a manager could alert an HR department about a social media post that they believe raises concerns. Cases of true fraud—where an employee is caught posting pictures of herself running a marathon two days after claiming to have a broken leg—are more common than one might expect. But social media can create hazards for injured employees in more subtle ways. Anything that contradicts the facts included in claim documents could create doubts in the mind of an insurance adjuster. In the social media world, which places a certain premium on keeping up appearances, a photograph or casual comment could cast doubt on the severity of an employee’s injury.

Call the GGRM Law Firm for help with your workers' comp claim

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area pursue workers’ compensation claims. We offer free attorney consultations to new clients. To schedule an appointment call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Mistakes to Avoid After an Auto Accident in Nevada

Being in a serious car accident can have long-term consequences, especially for someone who has been injured and faces a long road to recovery. Amidst the fear and pain that comes in the immediate aftermath of a major crash, it’s important for people who have been injured to avoid making certain mistakes that could hurt their chances of recovering full compensation for their injuries from the at-fault driver or that driver’s insurance carrier. Naturally it’s essential to prioritize getting medical attention for those who need it after an accident. Once that step is resolved, there are some important things to avoid doing:
  • Not gathering a complete record of information about the accident. It’s always important to exchange information with other people who were involved in the crash. Nevada law requires drivers who are involved in a crash to exchange basic contact information, as well as license and insurance details. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to note down the time and location of the accident and as many details about what happened as possible. If possible, taking pictures is always helpful. So is getting contact details from witnesses, such as passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers who stopped to help.
  • Making statements that could imply fault. Although for many it’s instinctive to apologize after being an accident, an apology can become a tool of the other side in litigation as they seek to prove that their client wasn’t entirely at fault. One needn’t fear expressing concern for another person, of course, but it’s wise to avoid discussing the circumstances of the crash with the other driver. The inverse is also true: if the other driver begins to apologize profusely and offers a narrative about the accident that clearly shows fault, be sure to write down what was said.
  • Posting on social media about the accident. For many, posting photos and stories about an accident can feel like a perfectly natural thing to do. But it can have repercussions in any ensuing legal case, where the specific words and photos posted to a social media platform can be used to contradict testimony or establish adverse facts. Social media posts can be used by a defendant to call into question the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, establish that the plaintiff bears at least some fault for the accident, or other important details.
Anyone who has been injured in a car accident in Nevada should discuss the accident with an experienced accident attorney. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and auto accident cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your accident. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Avoiding Social Media Mistakes After an Accident

Avoiding Social Media Mistakes After an Accident
People who are accustomed to using social media are often quick to share interesting experiences online. After an accident it can be tempting to tell friends about what happened, perhaps with pictures of smashed cars and other people who were involved. But social media posts can come back to haunt someone who ends up in litigation over an accident. Before rushing to Facebook or Twitter after an accident, there are some things to keep in mind.

Social media content can be evidence

Perhaps the most serious issue posed by social media in the context of a serious accident is that its content can be used as evidence in a trial or arbitration. An adverse party can request social media records as part of discovery, the fact-gathering phase of litigation. Here are a few ways this can matter:
  • Content can be used to prove fault. Statements that could show fault will almost certainly become central pieces of evidence in a case. For example, a driver could post an admission that he or she was distracted (“Shouldn’t have been playing Pokemon and driving!”). A driver could also post an admission of having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol (“I shouldn’t have smoked that joint before driving! LOL!”). It will be difficult to overcome such damaging statements in court.
  • Content can contradict oral testimony. Because social media posts are written, they can have an outsized importance when determining the truth of a statement. That is especially true when they are made shortly after the accident. Counteracting them with later testimony that tries to paint them as inaccurate or untrue can be difficult. “I was only kidding,” is a poor argument. Photos can be especially persuasive if they don’t line up with claims about the severity of an injury or other details.
  • Content can prove the extent of an injury. Someone who claims to be bed-ridden with a serious injury but who posts photos of themselves dancing will almost certainly struggle to convince a court that the injuries are serious.

Social media can damage important relationships and your image

Social media can have other consequences beyond establishing the facts of a case.
  • Waiving attorney-client privilege. Posts on social media can be considered public statements that are outside of the protected, confidential attorney-client relationship. Posting information about an attorney’s legal advice can waive the confidentiality of such advice, potentially making it part of court arguments when it otherwise wouldn’t be.
  • Creating an impression of bad faith. If a driver’s insurance company believes that the driver is not being truthful about the details of an accident the insurer may deny coverage.
  • Offending the fact-finders. Even if social media posts don’t raise specific legal concerns, they can make a person look bad. Posting crude or offensive remarks about the other people involved in the accident can make a judge or jury less sympathetic. Posting photos of someone who has been injured, especially children, is often seen as cruel, invasive, and inappropriate.

GGRM helps people injured in accidents in Las Vegas recover compensation

The best approach to handling social media after an accident is to simply stay off of it. At a minimum, talk to your accident attorney about what is and isn’t appropriate before making statements that could come back to haunt you. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area for more than 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident we are happy to review your case and discuss your legal options with you. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Firefighters Should Take Care When Posting on Social Media

Firefighters Should Take Care When Posting on Social Media
Social media use is getting some firefighters into professional trouble. A Boston firefighter was placed on leave last year after posting racially charged, violent material on Facebook. His incendiary posts raise questions about his fitness to serve the public and expose his department to public criticism. They are just one example of mistakes a firefighter can make when posting online.

Employers can fire employees for social media use

Employees in every industry are finding out the hard way that employers are able to fire them for what they post on social media, even in channels that they believe are private. Unless a firefighter is working under a contract, chances are good that his or her employment is “at-will.” That means that an employer often can fire an employee at any time, with or without cause. In the right situation a firefighter’s social media posts may give the department “cause” to terminate the employment relationship. Bear in mind that even though employers can show interest in an employee’s social media accounts, they cannot require employees to disclose their login credentials as a condition of employment. NRS 613.135. This arguably prevents employers from requiring their employees to give them access to their private social media feeds (i.e., as “friends” on Facebook). However, a firefighter could voluntarily accept a connection with a manager or other colleagues and effectively waive any expectation of privacy. Firefighters should know that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides that employees cannot be fired in retaliation for using social media to organize and discuss job-related issues. Complaints about job conditions, including issues with managers, enjoy greater leeway than other kinds of potentially unacceptable content. But care should be taken to keep such posts professional.

Kinds of posts that should be avoided

There are many kinds of social media posts that could get a firefighter into trouble. Many of them are simply common sense. Here are some examples:
  • Posts that breach confidentiality obligations. Firefighters have confidentiality obligations with regard to members of the public as well as internal department matters. For example, posting photos of a fire scene is potentially actionable, especially if the photos include members of the public.
  • Posts that show evidence of illegal or discouraged activity. It almost goes without saying that a firefighter should not post photos of himself or herself doing something illegal, like using prohibited drugs. Even posting material that expresses a positive opinion of such things can create problems. In Nevada firefighters need to be especially cautious now that recreational marijuana has been decriminalized: even though marijuana use is no longer a state criminal offense, its use by firefighters is still subject to employer restrictions.
  • Posts that violate department policy. Firefighters should be familiar with the policies that govern their social media use. For example, most fire departments prohibit unapproved use of official uniforms and insignia for unofficial purposes.
  • Posts that may be offensive. As public servants firefighters have an obligation to avoid making racially or sexually inappropriate comments on social media and elsewhere. Whether content is offensive isn’t necessarily up to the firefighter. Assume that content will be judged by a wide audience, and that it may reflect poorly upon the employer even though it is not posted in an official capacity.

GGRM serves the Las Vegas firefighting community

Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is proud of its long history of service to the Las Vegas first-responder community. If you are a firefighter with questions about your social media use, please reach out to us. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Can My Employer Fire Me for What I Post on Social Media?

Can My Employer Fire Me for What I Post on Social Media?
In the era of social media, workers are increasingly discovering that the things they post online can come back to haunt them in various ways. Losing a job over a tweet can seem unfair, but the fact is that employers have a lot of leeway when it comes to firing employees for what they post. However, there are limited exceptions.

Social media and at-will employment

In an at-will employment state like Nevada, both the employee and employer are free to end their relationship with or without cause. That means that an employer can choose to terminate an employee for no reason at all. A post on Facebook that reveals an employer’s confidential information, reveals an employee’s dishonesty, or calls into doubt the employee’s qualifications for the job, may simply give the employer cause.

But isn’t social media private?

Under Nevada law, an employer cannot require employees to disclose their user names and passwords for personal accounts on social media, and cannot take adverse actions against an employee for refusing to provide such information. NRS 613.135. Some read the statute to mean that an employer also cannot require employees to accept managers as social media connections—that is, as a friend on Facebook, or as a follower on Twitter. However, an employer can view public posts on social media just like anyone else. And if an employee voluntarily authorizes a manager to access posts, without prompting from the employer, it could be interpreted as a waiver of the employee’s expectation of privacy. Employees should be especially careful when posting on social media using company equipment. Employers have the right to monitor use of equipment they own. Especially if an employee is posting on social media during working hours, the employer may have a good argument that the posts form evidence of disciplinary problem, even if it ignores the content of the posts themselves. Employers are increasingly adopting specific written policies that address employee use of social media. If your employer has such a policy, be sure to read it. Although Nevada employers cannot regulate many aspects of an employee’s private activities, they can take steps to protect their legitimate business interests, which can include watching out for online behaviors that harm the company. For example, if a job involves working with a company’s clients, the employee should not post things that clients might find offensive, even if the clients aren’t likely to see them.

There are some limits on what employers can do with social media

An employer that bases a firing decision on an employee’s social media posts can violate the employee’s rights in a number of ways. Here are two examples:
  • The federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees from retaliation for posting on social media in connection with collective bargaining or other matters related to working conditions. The NLRA has been interpreted to prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against employees who post negative comments about the company or managers on private social media accounts. Although an employee should not assume that posting public complaints about a boss is a form of protected speech, the NLRA does give leeway for using social media to organize and address problems at work.
  • Social media posts often reveal information about a person’s age, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, religion, or other personal traits that are protected against unlawful employment discrimination under federal or state laws. In Nevada, an employer cannot fire an employee on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation. See this site for a complete list of things protected against discrimination in the state.

GGRM is here to help employees who are wrongfully terminated in Las Vegas

If you have lost a job because of a post on social media and you’re trying to figure out your legal options, it can be helpful to talk to an attorney. At GGRM we have a long history of helping workers defend their rights. For a free consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our contact page.