Surveillance

A legal claim for compensation can be made based on any type of accident compensation claim. The law allows insurance companies to employ the services of an investigator to perform surveillance on an injured worker. The types of surveillance that an investigator can perform include following the injured worker, speaking with neighbors about the injured worker, and videotaping the injured worker conducting normal activities in public. Investigators may not trespass or take pictures of an injured worker in his or her home. However, an investigator may follow the injured worker for a period of time in an attempt to find him or her taking part in activities that may be outside of his or her work restrictions or beyond the level of disability that the injured worker is claiming.

The investigator may follow the injured worker for a number of days and see if he/she engages in any physical activity that may be outside of his/her work restrictions or the level of disability that the injured worker is claiming.

Additionally, surveillance may include persons calling the injured worker under false pretenses, such as "products testing" in which they state they are with an organization and that the injured worker has been selected at random to test certain consumer products. An appointment could be made to meet the injured worker in person, at which time they would encourage the injured worker to perform activities such as unloading boxes of products or perform other activities excepting his/her medical restrictions.

Also beware of persons in an "emergency" as this may be the investigator himself. For example, an insurance company adjuster poses as a stranded motorist or perhaps a neighbor in need and who asks for your assistance in helping to perform an activity such as changing a tire.

In all of these cases, an injured worker's activities could be videotaped by the investigator. This tape could later be introduced as part of a workers' compensation case before a workers' compensation Judge. The videotape may be used to challenge the injured worker's medical testimony or to try to convince the Judge that the injured worker is not as disabled as he/she is asking the Judge to believe.

While the law recognizes that surveillance videotapes may be misleading, Judge's usually do consider this evidence to some extent. A videotape of an injured worker performing activities could be very damaging to the case. This is especially true if the injured worker is found on tape performing physical activity exceeding his/her medical restrictions on one of his/her good days. The investigator is unable to submit a tape showing the injured worker is unable to work, only those that show physical activity which may be misleading. The injured worker may have a hard time proving that he/she is unable to perform the level of activity seen on the tape and may place his/her receipt of workers' compensation benefits in jeopardy.

NOTE: If an injured worker notices any strange vehicles in the neighborhood, he/she should call the police and report any suspicious activity. Once the investigator is discovered, the surveillance will often end. It is also a good idea to consult with a workers' compensation lawyer at Michael J. O'Connor & Associates as surveillance is often an event that triggers litigation.

I saw someone following me, what should I do?

The Pennsylvania workers' compensation lawyer team at Michael J. O'Connor & Associates is ready to begin tackling your legal problem today. Email or call our toll free number at 1.800.518.4LAW for a free initial consultation and review of your case.

By: Michael O'Connor

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