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Appeals court allows social media photos as evidence

Social media has quickly become a mainstay in many of our lives. We are often quick to post status updates to inform friends and loved ones of our new favorite book or upcoming vacation plans. We also enjoy sharing photos of events that occur in our lives. However, for one man, the pictures he posted to various social media sites proved to be detrimental to his workers' compensation case, and may be something for Phoenix residents to take note of.

A man's workers' compensation claim appeal has been shut down following the allowance of Facebook and MySpace photos as evidence. The man, who suffered a work injury when a refrigerator fell on him, was seeking to have his disability benefits extended.

The 27-year-old man suffered a hernia March 12, 2009 and had been covered under workers' compensation. His medical expenses were paid for and he had received temporary total disability benefits for more than one year. His extension request followed three injury-related surgeries.

He claimed to be in "excruciating pain," but photos from Facebook and MySpace showed him "drinking and partying." The man's attorney called the allowance of the photos a disgrace to the dignity of the working class. He also said they were "irrelevant, immaterial and prejudicial." The issue was not what the man was doing in his free time, but whether or not he needed additional treatment.

However, according to the appeals court, diagnostic test showed no recurrent hernia and that further exploratory surgery was not needed. They also saw no problem with allowing the photos in court proceedings. The man's case hinged on the banning of the photos from the trial, and the appeals court did not do so.

In a written opinion for the state Court of Appeals, a judge said that the photos were in direct conflict with the patient's claim of "excruciating pain." The photos did and should have a bearing on the man's credibility, and they could not be barred because of the harmful effect on the man's perceived character.

Source: ABC News, "Court Okays Facebook Party Photos in Workers Comp Claim," Lyneka Little, Feb. 3, 2012

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