After being injured on the job and filing for a worker’s compensation claim, an employee should always assume they will be under some sort of surveillance. Employers and insurers alike often hire insurance claim investigators to poke holes in the case. If their surveillance shows inconsistencies with the injuries and disabilities listed in the claim, the insurer may use it as justification for a denial. So, here’s what you should know:
· What Workers’ Compensation Investigators Are Looking For
· Surveillance After a Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Legal
· How To Protect Your Rights
· Don’t Go At It Alone
What Workers’ Compensation Investigators Are Looking For
Investigators are hired for one purpose—to discredit your claim that you are injured or to cast doubt that you are as severely injured as suggested in your claim. Anything they can find to prove your injuries aren’t as bad as you’re suggesting will hurt your case. Investigators are armed with cameras with zoom lenses that can snap photographic and video evidence when you have no idea they are watching.
Surveillance After a Workers’ Compensation Claim is Legal
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not giving it away. And, unfortunately, there are cases of fraud. For this reason, insurance companies have the right to investigate the claim in any way it sees fit, within the bounds of the law.
The company must have “proof” that it doesn’t have to pay you, and video footage is pretty good evidence. That said, there are some limitations as to what they can and cannot do. For example, they cannot:
· Take video surveillance of you doing private activities inside your home
· Plant bugs to record conversations
· Enter your home, car, or any other private property without your consent
· Harass you by following you for extended periods of time
How to Protect Your Rights
Private investigators often start at the doctor’s office. If the dates and times of your appointments are known, it is easy for them to track you there. They will often use these appointments to verify your identity and some other facts to make tracking you easier.
Beyond the doctor’s office, they may follow you to the gas station, to the grocery store, as you pick up your children from school or as you tackle other errands. They may stake out your home and neighborhood. Since we cannot stop an insurance company from hiring an investigator to watch your every move, you should be smart about your behavior.
1. Always follow your doctor’s orders. After an injury, doctors set limitations on what you can lift, if you can drive, etc. This is one of the biggest risks of surveillance. You may pick your child up out of habit—but if your child weighs more than what your weight restriction is for lifting, they got you. Always be mindful of what you are doing after a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim.
2. Be aware of all your actions. Even with your injuries, you might feel well enough to go outside for a walk, to garden or to mow the lawn. Even though these activities might not be against doctor’s orders, your actions can be twisted and turned into an argument that you are not seriously hurt or that you are capable of returning to your pre-injury job. During the claim process, it is always best to simply take a break from activity if possible.
3. Social media is not your friend during this time. Private investigators will use your social media posts and the posts of others against you if they can. Not only do you need to be careful of what you say and post, but those you know do, too. Be sure to have a conversation with friends and family about your claim and give them a heads-up not to post anything that would be damaging.
4. Do NOT talk to the investigator. If you suspect somebody is following you and trying to get video, do not approach them. They will not be intimidated by you and, in fact, might try to rile you up to use the confrontation against you.
5. Best thing to do is hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. Taking on big insurance companies yourself is never easy. They have lawyers, adjusters, nurse case managers and other team members and resources who are working to do everything they can to minimize your claim, and surveillance after a workers’ compensation claim is just one of the ways in which they do so.
Don’t Go at it Alone
Workers’ compensation insurers deny many legitimate claims. It happens all the time. As outlined above, there are many things that can happen that jeopardize an employee’s right to collect the compensation they deserve. Acceptance rates are historically low—so it is critical to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to make sure you never miss a step.
Consulting with an attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that you are maximizing the value of your claim. If you or someone you know was injured on the job, Call Georgelis First at 1-800-HURT-NOW. Give us a call today so we can help you through the process. The insurance company has countless employees working against you; you should have someone on your side making sure that you are protected.
At Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. you will not be charged a consultation fee; in fact, you will never be charged a fee unless we get money for you!