Another disability case involving evidence from social networking

In an earlier post, I mentioned that a Canadian woman was denied future disability benefits after her insurance company discovered that her lifestyle, as portrayed on Facebook, suggested that she was no longer disabled. Another case involving disability benefits recently surfaced in Jerusalem.

Haaretz.com reports that Edva Turjman became disabled when she was hit by a car in 2006. Turjman felt that her functional disability was greater than 50%, but her insurer, Clal Insurance, felt that it should be 20% citing evidence from Turjman’s online social networks to support their case.

In this instance, however, the judge ruled in favor of Turjman. His reasoning was as follows:

Should a person who pulls together all his strength in order to try to return to a normal life, regardless of whether he actually manages to do so or whether he just creates an appearance of such, be eligible for less compensation than someone who follows suggestions to further limit himself until the end of legal proceedings in order to increase his compensation?

The judged deemed that Turjman’s disability was 35% and granted her compensation of NIS 1.3 million.

So for now, it seems that social networking behavior is open to wide interpretation in the context of disability cases. However, the incidence of these is likely to rise.

Thanks to @ahow628 for bringing this news to my attention.

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  1. #1 by Andy on April 5, 2010 - 11:44 am

    I found that interpretation to be really interesting. I can certainly see being wary of constantly posting “Whoa is me!” type of status updates, but I would probably also take it easy on the pictures of me water skiing as well.

    It seems the insurance company better have some VERY compelling evidence of what constitutes things like “dancing at a wedding.” I can see myself posting that status update even if wheelchair-bound or on crutches.

  2. #2 by Eddie on April 5, 2010 - 3:11 pm

    Yes, this is definitely uncharted territory. A problem with online social networking is that things can easily be taken out of context. I question whether information on a site like Facebook alone would be sufficient unless it was just overwhelming. But ideally, it needs to be corroborated somehow.

    I’m definitely no legal expert, however. Perhaps one will come along and share his or her views.

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