We were delighted to learn that we were named as an honoree in the 2012 LexisNexis Top 25 Blogs for Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Issues, That’s terrific and we appreciate the recognition! In their gracious acknowledgement, they note that Workers’ Comp Insider is in its 10th year, and my goodness, that’s true – how time flies!
The insurance blog scene was a barren landscape when we launched, a lonely place indeed! Plus, it was months and months before we were able to scare up much of a readership beyond our family members, closest colleagues and a handful of clients. The general reaction was “What the heck is a blog?” or “Who would want to read a diary about workers comp?” But eventually, someone found us – over the last 2,000 days, we’ve had more than 1.2 million visitors representing 209 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe! Who’da thunk workers comp would have that much appeal?
One of the things that we find particularly gratifying is to see such a robust list of honorees on the LexisNexis list – we are happy to think we had a hand in inspiring that. Congratulations to the other 24 blogs that have also been named. As regular readers know, we’re big fans of Joe Paduda and Roberto Ceniceros, who we cite frequently. There are many other blogs on the list that are among our favorites – you will see them in our blogroll in the right-hand sidebar. We’re also delighted to find many new-to-us blogs listed that will be fun to explore. We encourage you to visit them all.
We should all feel good that workers comp has such a thriving blog scene — and we’d be remiss not to point out the important role that the LexisNexis awards have played in fostering and promoting this. If the LexisNexis Workers Compensation Law center isn’t in your “favorites” list, it needs to be! A tip of the hat to Robin E. Kobayashi and Ted Zwayer.
And last but not least, a tip of the hat, to you, our readers. You are our raison d’etre and our driving force. Whether you’re praising us or panning us, we appreciate it all. Thanks for stopping by, thanks for coming back – group hugs all around! !
Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category
ABC news has picked up a story out of Arkansas: Zack Clement suffered a hernia while moving a refrigerator for his employer, Johnson’s Warehouse Showroom. He underwent multiple surgeries, but the pain lingered, so he filed for a continuation of benefits. Among the pieces of evidence at his trial were party photos posted on his Facebook page, which show Clement drinking (and little else). When his claim for reinstatement was denied, Clement appealed, citing the unfairness of the Facebook evidence.
ABC wrote as follows:
In an opinion, written by Judge David M. Glover, the Arkansas Court of Appeals states: “We find no abuse of discretion in the allowance of photographs. Clement contended that he was in excruciating pain, but these pictures show him drinking and partying.”
“Certainly these pictures could have a bearing on a Clement’s credibility, albeit a negative effect that Clement might not wish to be demonstrated to the ALJ or the Commission, ” Glover continues. “We hold that there was not an abuse of discretion in allowing the photographs.”
Justice in the Details
At first glance, the judge’s comments might be cause for alarm. An injured worker suffering from chronic pain might well be capable of having a few drinks with friends. (One can only hope that the alcohol does not interfere with any prescribed -or unprescribed – pain medications.) If the photos were the primary evidence of Clement’s condition and the basis for denying the claim, Clement would have good reason to object. However, this is not the case.
In the course of his carefully reasoned findings, Judge Glover reviews in detail the medical history of Clement’s claim. Even after multiple surgeries and several changes in treating doctors, Clement complained of ongoing pain. Extensive medical testing revealed no abnormalities and no evidence for the pain itself. He has been released to full duty. It is this detailed history and the lack of medical evidence that lead Glover to conclude that any further treatment would fall outside of the workers comp system. The Facebook photos are by no means the foundation of his findings. Nonetheless, he decides that the photos are a legitimate piece of the case file and admissable as evidence.
In my limited experience, Facebook seems to be a platform for superficial news and, for the most part, images of the good times. It is difficult to imagine that Clement would have used this public forum to post pictures of himself suffering excrutiating pain. If he had chosen to do so, this might have provided evidence in his favor. However, his friends would likely have chided him for being such a downer and even then, the court might have dismissed the images as theatrical exaggeration.
Facebook may now be the preferred means of presenting our personal narratives, but it is unlikely to help us make our case in a court of law.
Are Facebook, Twitter and other social media postings fair game when conducting a workers comp fraud investigation?
We’ve posted on this topic previously, including a reference to a successful Facebook-related investigation conducted by New York State Insurance Department’s Fraud Bureau: social networking, workers comp & the law. Now, two of the experts that we cited in that post – Professor Gregory Duhl of the William Mitchell College of Law and attorney Jaclyn Millner – have a new article that is worth your attention: Social media and insurance fraud.
In the article, they answer our opening question with a strong affirmative, making a comparison between internet searches of public social networking profiles to the more common fraud investigation tool of video surveillance of property-casualty claimants. In fact, they make the case for why insurance investigators should be spending even more company time on Facebook, suggesting that postings or photos can substantiate some other evidence found in an investigation. While privacy issues are of concern, they state:
A privacy argument is unlikely to prevail in court because a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in whether he or she has a social networking account or in what is posted in his or her profile. Even if a claimant protects his or her social networking profile information with privacy settings, the information is available to at least some third parties, to whom the claimant gives access (the claimant’s “friends”).
Some courts have gone so far as to say that there is no privacy interest in information stored on the internet because even if information, such as social networking information, is protected with privacy settings, it could be accessed by certain members of the public.
The recent case of Romano v. Steelcase Inc. shows that anything posted on Facebook or any other social networking site, whether the user has privacy settings or not, is likely discoverable.
Social Media & Employment Law
The social media landscape is dynamic and the courts are grappling with many thorny issues. If it isn’t one of the top issues you are tracking in employment law, it needs to be. While fraud investigation is one area of interest, there are many other significant issues: how social media is used in hiring and pre-employment screening; social media policies in and out of the workplace; monitoring employees in the workplace, and more. Here are some good resources to help you keep current with the dynamic intersection of social media and employment law:
Think Before You Click: Strategies for Managing Social Media in the Workplace is a newly released book that we can’t wait to read. The book’s authors and editors are among some of the legal authorities we most frequently turn to on the topic of social media – several are practicing bloggers. We would particularly cite the following two authors, who frequently blog on social media:
**Employment Law Attorney Jon Hyman: Ohio Employer’s Law Blog
**Employment Law Attorney Daniel Schwartz: Connecticut Employment Law Blog
And from the plaintiff perspective, we would recognize attorneys Jon Gelman and Alan S. Pierce who paired up for a podcast on Privacy, Clients and Social Media. Gelman frequently posts about social media on his blog, Workers’ Compensation (which is well worth reading on other topics, too). He also has authored articles on social media, such asFacebook Becomes a Questionable Friend of Workers’ Compensation.
In the past, we’ve featured assorted news items about how employers and insurers are turning to social networks to monitor employees for potential fraud. In fact, just last week, we learned about how the New York State Insurance Department’s Fraud Bureau recently cracked a case as a result of a Facebook posting. But social media and how it intersects with workers compensation is all still pretty uncharted territory.
Given this, we were delighted to learn of a recent paper specifically dealing with this area of law: Social Networking and Workers’ Compensation Law at the Crossroads, authored by Gregory M. Duhl of William Mitchell College of Law and Jaclyn S. Millner of Fitch, Johnson, Larson & Held, P.A. It’s a substantial document – 75 pages, to be precise, that looks at the use of social networking evidence in workers’ compensation litigation. It’s scheduled to be published in the Pace Law Review, but you can download a free copy of the report at the above link. We’d encourage you to run, not walk, to get your copy – it’s interesting, well written, and thoroughly annotated, and you don’t need to be an attorney to find it valuable.
We think that the remarks which the authors make at the conclusion of their paper do an excellent job of explaining the importance of both the issues at hand and the value of this work in particular, so we are taking the liberty of reproducing them:
“The lawyers, judges, insurance companies, and parties within workers’ compensation systems will increasingly confront the discovery, privacy, professional responsibility, and evidentiary issues that arise at the crossroads of workers’ compensation law and social networking. In the absence of case law and ethics opinions that discuss these exact issues, this article starts with the rules that govern workers’ compensation cases, and discusses how they might apply to lawyers gathering, producing, and introducing evidence from social networking sites. But this article is only a starting point. As workers’ compensation systems are built on efficiency, flexibility, and discretion, workers’ compensation is an ideal area of law for lawyers and judges to experiment with how to address some of the unique challenges and opportunities that social networking poses in litigation.
While there is a lack of legal authority on these issues, that should not cloud the reality that many employees are using social networking in their daily lives. One thing of which we are certain is that lawyers who practice in the workers’ compensation field need to be able to navigate around social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace, and know how they work. Social networking is no longer a new technology, and ignorance should not be an excuse to the applicability of evidence from social networking sites in litigation.”
In the spirit of those remarks, we’d like to leave you with this video clip which gives a good overview of how social media is changing the landscape. Startling as it is, it’s already almost a year out of date.
For workers’ comp news and other links in between blog posts, we encourage you to follow @workcompinsider on Twitter. If you aren’t yet on Twitter, you may want to think about it. Even if you aren’t ready to engage, it can be a great way to follow industry buzz. You may already be following many blogs and news sources through RSS (syndicated) feeds via news readers – we do, too. But Twitter feeds add diversity and immediacy as well as the potential for engagement. You don’t have to have messages fed to your mobile devices, you can choose to follow folks on your Twitter home page or via a service like TweetDeck.
Here are just a few of the interesting Twitter feeds that we follow – most are insurance- or work-related:
@AIADC – The American Insurance Association “represents approximately 350 major insurance companies that provide all lines of property and casualty insurance”
@sthomas_eea – by Stephanie R Thomas, “economic/statistical expert & consultant specializing in employment issues”
@ijournal – daily insurance news headlines for the Property Casualty industry
@mashable – “The hottest Twitter news, Twitter tips and Twitter help”
@TheClaimsSPOT – Snippets from the blog of Marc Lanzkowsky, founder of Lanzko Consulting “Spotting process improvements & cost savings for claims & related orgs”
@ClaimsMagazine – by Eric Gilkey, Editor-in-Chief of Claims magazine
@safetycommunity – “the first online community created exclusively for the workplace safety industry,” hosted and maintained by the folks at Ansell Occupational Health
@HRHero – by Tony Kessler, Group Publisher at HRHero. Information on employment law for HR and business pros from law firms in all 50 states, D.C., and Canada
@MWConsultingLLC – a company that focuses on OSHA compliance through employee training and proficiency
@NIOSH – The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
@hpandpsafety – “Specialists in workplace safety with emphasis on maintaining OSHA compliance”
@OccHealthSafety – Occupational Health & Safety Magazine; Carla Saavedra, Jr. Web Editor
@Health_Affairs – “The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere”
@workforcenews – News about workforce management and HR issues from Workforce Management magazine
@fastompany – “empowers innovators to challenge convention and create the future of business”
We’re in the process of updating our blogroll to add some blogs that we’ve been following, as well as to delete some old favorites that have become inactive. Here are a few of the blogs we’ve added – check them out:
Work Comp Complex Care Blog – affiliated with Total Medical Solutions, a FL-based firm that focuses on home health care and complex care products and services for the workers’ comp industry.
Lexis Nexis Workers Comp Law Blogs – this is a news feed of various law bloggers who post on workers’ comp legal matters.
MEMIC Safety Blog – safety & loss control consultants from Maine’s largest workers’ compensation insurer post about workplace safety issues.
Advanced Safety & Health Blog – safety & prevention news sponsored by a company of the same name.
Coal Tattoo – investigative reporter Ken ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette blogs about West Virginia mining, mining safety, mining-related public health issues, and more.
Today’s Workplace – a blog from workplacefairness.org, a non-profit organization that provides information, education, and assistance to individual workers and their advocates nationwide and promotes public policies that advance employee rights.
MassDevice Blog – This blog is associated with Massachusetts Medical Devices Journal, an online journal of the New England medical devices industry, with coverage of emerging trends, technology and devices that save lives.
Medgadget – this long-time favorite bills itself as the internet journal for emerging medical technologies.
WSJ Health Blog – Wall Street Journal’s blog on health and the business of health.
Hot off the presses – Richard Eskow has posted the most recent edition of Cavalcade of Risk. He’s got a good round-up of risk-related posts, but he had hazardous duty posting it due to a huge number of spam submissions. Spammy, fly-by-night blogs seem to be proliferating, grrr. Guess that is one of the risks inherent in business blogging.
In other news …
We’ve just joined the rank of Twitterers – just getting our feet wet so far, but check us out twitter.com/workcompinsider. Twitter seems to be a love it or hate it type of thing for people … some critics go to pretty creative lengths to weigh in with their opinion.
A few good blog finds this week to add to your reading list:
Risk Management Monitor – the official blog of Risk Management magazine, providing daily stories, commentary, interviews, podcasts and videos related to the world of risk management and insurance. Meet the bloggers.
And two international entries:
Ramazzini – a blog on work and health by Annet Lenderink, trained occupational physician and a journalist, who works as coordinator of knowledge dissemination at the Netherlands Center of Occupational Diseases. The blog is named after the Italian founder of Occupational Medicine Bernadino Ramazzinni (1633-1714).
Safety At Work Blog – an Australian blog focusing on news and opinion on important workplace safety issues. The blog was founded by workplace safety consultant and Kevin Jones. Meet Kevin and the other blog contributors and you can also follow them on Twitter.
We surf the web so you don’t have to! From time to time, we like to bring your attention to some new or noteworthy blogs related to workers’ comp, healthcare, or other work-related matters. Now we’re finding some Twitter feeds, too. Here’s our current crop:
Judge Tom Talks – Judge Tom Leonard is one of ten judges at the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court, and in his blog, he offers his thoughts about issues affecting the efficient handling of claims. Congrats to Judge Tom for recently passing his one year “blogiversary.”
MySafeWork Blog is the blog of Canadians Rob Ellis and Jessica Di Sabatino, who lost a son and brother to a workplace accident in 1999. David was only 18 when he died and his Dad and sister have been devoted to educating young workers – as well as parents and employers – about the importance of workplace safety related to youthful workers.
New Englanders and those interested in healthcare should take note of Boston Health News, authored by Tinker Ready. She is a health care journalist who has covered health and science news for a variety of notable publications, including The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Esquire, to name a few. We discovered her blog through Health Wonk Review, which – incidentally – we are hosting here tomorrow!
We note that NIOSH has a Twitter feed. Not sure how long the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been tweeting, but it has been a useful format for disseminating news about the H1N1 outbreak.
In addition to his Workers Compensation blog, noted workers comp trial attorney and author Jon Gelman can also be found on Twitter at jongelman.
SafetyNewsAlert – edited by Fred Hosier, this site is more of an e-zine than a blog, but has useful articles, news, and links on various workplace health and safety issues.
Lloyd’s has several bloggers now, all accessible from the Lloyd’s blog page.
Ah, we remember the good old days just a few short years ago when the insurance blog landscape was barren and lonely. Now, we are delighted to see a profusion of insurance related blogs, with new entries cropping up every month. Here are a few recent discoveries that we’ve found noteworthy.
MEMIC Safety Blog by Paul Caret focuses on safety and prevention – just as the name would suggest. We liked his recent post on Machine Guards and the Cost of Cutting Corners. Also see The ABCD’s of Fire Extinguishers.
The Medical Quack is an entertaining blog that might be likened to a medical “cabinet of curiosities.” Blogger Barbara Duck (thus the genesis of the blog name) offers an interesting grab bag of medical news that is part serious, part silly, with a penchant for technology. See Twitter Surgery – In the Operating Room.
Our client partner, Renaissance Group, has introduced a new Consumer Insurance Blog which is designed to provide news, videos, information, and tips for consumers on a variety of topics, such as renter’s insurance, identity theft, and auto insurance.
Gregory’s Business Insurance Blog by Gregory Boop is part of the about.com’s family of informational sites. Gregory’s posts are informed by his experience as a business trial lawyer, authorized OSHA trainer, and consultant to businesses on risk management.
LexisNexis Workers Compensation Law Blog is an index of blog posts from attorneys on a variety of workers’ comp related topics.
Colorado Workers Comp Blog by plaintiff attorney Richard E. Falcone brings a perspective on issues particular to the Colorado workers comp system.
Nancy Germond, blogger at Insurance Copywriter makes a fine debut as host of this week’s Cavalcade of Risk #67. It’s a good issue. Plus, we like Nancy – we’ve linked to some of her risk management columns at AllBusiness before. Note her recent timely column: Top Ten Ways to Avoid a Santa Suit.
Other blog reads
While we tend to focus on workers comp and insurance in our blog recommendations, we read many peripheral blogs that we like so we thought we would bring a few new finds and favorites to your attention.
Through a good post on safety glasses, we’ve just discovered Assembly Blog, a web adjunct of Assembly magazine – that’s great, maybe we aren’t looking hard enough, but we haven’t discovered too many manufacturing themed blogs.
We’ve recently added Corporate Wellness Insights to our sidebar. Of recent note: Three Wellness Issues to Watch in 2009
Thoughts from Training Time is a substantive blog that we like to read now and again. As might be expected, the general theme is on training, but posts run the gamut on a variety of human resource and productivity topics.
Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog is a great filter for some of the best weekly business reading. Wally usually begins each week with a roundup of good posts he culls from the business press and often features a midweek roundup from business blogs.
We wish there weren’t a need for this blog, but unfortunately there is since homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women in the workplace. Domestic Violence and the Workplace is written by Kim Wells, Executive Director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. It’s an important issue, and Kim highlights some of the best practice initiatives by some of the nation’s largest employers. Also on the topic, see last month’s article in Fortune: Domestic violence: Your coworker’s dark secret