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Will I Be Followed By A Workers’ Comp Investigator?

  • Jon Koutcher
  • 08/09/2021

Insurance companies will often perform surveillance on workers who are claiming injury and disability. The level of surveillance activity depends upon several factors, including the aggressiveness of the employer, the body part injured, the type of injury, and the activity level of the injured worker. For instance, if you have a foot injury, an insurance company may try to obtain surveillance to show how you go up and down steps, get in or out of a car, or see if you walk with a limp. If you have a back injury, a surveillance investigator may try to obtain video when you are at the supermarket carrying a grocery bag or lifting your child in/out of the shopping cart. Read on for insight from our workers’ comp lawyer PA team about workers’ comp surveillance.

Can workers’ comp follow you?

Whether you know it or not, an insurance company may hire a private investigator to go to your home and discreetly videotape your activities. While investigators cannot commit trespass by entering your home, they can videotape you pulling trash cans to your curb, mowing your lawn, or shoveling snow in your driveway. They can also follow you in your vehicle and into public places like stores. So, if you carry heavy pieces of wood out of Home Depot and lift them into the back of your truck, that could be videotaped.

Sometimes, the workers’ compensation investigation will last for several days; other times, they will conduct surveillance for a few days, take a break, and then do another round of surveillance a month or two later. The lawyer for the insurance company will submit the DVDs to the judge and may present the testimony of the investigator or investigators who shot the surveillance to describe what you were doing when they videotaped you. Pearson Koutcher Law can help you understand what surveillance they are allowed to complete and how to protect your claim.

Can a workers’ comp investigator look at my online activity?

Yes, insurance investigators can access your social media accounts, such as Facebook. You have no right to privacy when posting on these sites. Social media users typically post information and photographs about vacations, activities they recently performed, and social events they attended. All too often, injured workers post pictures to social media of themselves dancing, playing a sport, or engaging in some other activity inconsistent with their injury and unable to perform their jobs.

These images can significantly weaken the client’s workers’ compensation claim. Let’s say that the injured worker testifies before a workers’ compensation judge that their back injury causes them to limp, requiring a cane. They tell the judge that they are unable to perform their job, which entails standing for several hours daily and therefore request compensation. If they then post numerous pictures of themselves dancing at a nightclub or playing basketball with their friends (or commenting on posts with “had great time dancing last night,” or “enjoyed playing basketball over the weekend”), this is very likely to cause the judge to reject the worker’s testimony as incredible and rule against them. How can a person participate in a vigorous activity like dancing or playing basketball but claim he cannot walk without a limp and needs a cane?

Can a workers’ comp investigation affect my workers’ comp benefits?

Yes, surveillance evidence is potentially damaging to your case, particularly if evidence reveals you are performing physical activities inconsistent with what you say you cannot do. Insurance companies try to conduct workers’ comp surveillance when they know of an upcoming event, such as a hearing, doctor’s appointment/independent medical examination, or deposition.

So here is the bottom line. Be careful what you do! Be careful what you say!

The workers comp law firm’s Philadelphia team at Pearson Koutcher Law understands how critical and damaging surveillance can be to a case. We recognize that insurance companies have many tools available and will utilize surveillance footage to cast doubt on the injured worker’s allegations of injury and disability. Unfortunately, surveillance doesn’t depict you in moments of pain, like when you struggle to get out of bed in the morning or have difficulty tying your shoe due to back pain. Surveillance investigators often edit the film, and the camera stops recording when the injured worker shows signs of injury and functional limitation.

Philadelphia workers compensation attorneys at Pearson Koutcher Law will challenge the testimony of the surveillance investigators, present the injured worker to explain the surveillance, and make sure the injured worker’s physician is aware of the surveillance footage.

If you have a work-related injury, contact the experienced, aggressive, and compassionate legal team at Pearson Koutcher Law. We dedicate ourselves to providing fair representation in your workers’ comp case.

Pearson Koutcher Law Answers Your Workers’ Comp Surveillance Questions

Workers’ comp surveillance is a part of your employer’s strategy to limit your right to compensation. With the right legal team, however, you can receive the representation you deserve. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws. Contact Pearson Koutcher Law for a free consultation from one of our Philadelphia workers compensation attorneys.