Surveillance in Workers’ Compensation Claims
Are you receiving Arizona workers’ compensation benefits or in the process of filing a claim? You may be surprised when your employer’s insurer presents you with evidence suggesting that you’re not as injured as you claim to be. Many workers’ compensation insurers conduct surveillance on claimants for “proof” they can use to avoid making payouts.
Don’t let your claim get twisted or manipulated. Speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer at Matt Fendon Law Group right away. Since 2008, we’ve stood up for the rights of injured workers across Arizona. We fight back when employers and their insurance companies attempt to avoid fulfilling their obligations per state workers’ compensation laws.
Navigating the workers’ compensation system can get confusing, especially when the insurance company raises red flags at every turn. Contact our firm today for a free consultation with a dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer.
How Surveillance Can Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation insurance companies may conduct surveillance of claimants if they suspect the claimant is fabricating or exaggerating their claims of injury or disability. Evidence from surveillance may be used to argue for a reduction or termination of your workers’ comp benefits. Surveillance could also be introduced to challenge your credibility in a workers’ compensation hearing or at trial.
For example, surveillance can show an injured worker engaging in activities like playing sports or traveling, which can hurt the worker’s credibility if they’ve claimed that they cannot work. Surveillance might also show workers disregarding their treatment instructions, such as violating physical restrictions or not using prescribed devices like braces or canes.
Types of Surveillance Used by Workers’ Comp Investigators
Workers’ compensation insurers may use different types of surveillance to monitor workers’ comp claimants. Examples include:
- Workplace cameras: Workers’ comp insurers may install cameras and other security systems at your workplace to monitor your actions for signs of fraud.
- Contacting co-workers, supervisors, and customers: Investigators may interview your co-workers, supervisors, and other persons you interact with for information about your comments and activities.
- Checking your social media accounts: Insurers may also keep tabs on your social media accounts for any postings that may contradict the formal allegations in your workers’ compensation claim.
- Private investigators: Finally, some insurers take the step of hiring private investigators to physically watch you and take photos and videos of you in public, particularly to catch you engaging in activities not consistent with the level of injury you claimed.
Workers’ Comp Insurer Tactics to Pay Less
In addition to conducting surveillance of workers’ compensation claimants, insurers may also engage in other tactics designed to minimize the amount of money they have to pay. For example, the company may try to drag out claims for reimbursement or negotiations over a workers’ comp claim settlement.
When the insurance company delays paying you money or benefits, they may hope that your financial distress from mounting medical bills and missed income will force you to accept whatever money the insurer is willing to offer. Desperation can compel many claimants to agree to far less than what they deserve.
Flat denials are another common strategy. A workers’ comp insurer may deny that your injury is work-related, which would disqualify you for benefits.
Even if your injury is deemed compensable, the insurer may deny certain requests for benefits or may seek to terminate your benefits. This tactic is designed to force you to pursue benefits through the appeals process or through litigation, which may end up discouraging some employees from pursuing benefits to which they are rightfully entitled.
Ways to Handle Insurance Company Surveillance
Fortunately, you can take steps to help protect yourself from surveillance efforts by the workers’ comp insurer. Here are some tips:
- Always follows your treatment instructions and recommendations. Your treating physician may have given you certain physical limitations to follow while your work injury heals. If your doctor tells you to avoid lifting more than 20 pounds or to avoid running, don’t do it until you have been formally cleared to do so.
- Stay off social media. It’s too easy for insurers to access your social media accounts, even with your privacy settings turned on. Even if you don’t make comments about your injury or post photos, other people may mention the accident online or tag you in their photos that could undercut your credibility. Also, never accept a friend request from someone you don’t know. It could be an investigator.
- Think before you act. Even if you are keeping within the physical restrictions provided by your doctor, some actions may look like violations to the naked eye. For example, you may instinctually pick up your young child to comfort them when they are upset in public, but an investigator surveilling you may capture that moment on photo or video, and the insurance company might use that as evidence that you violated certain lifting restrictions.
- Avoid talking to potential investigators. Private investigators for insurance companies try to remain discreet. As such, they may try to anonymously approach you or your family, friends, and neighbors to gather information. Be cautious if you’re approached by anyone asking pointed questions about you.
- Hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Discovering that you are being surveilled can feel like a massive invasion of privacy, especially when your integrity is in question. An experienced lawyer can help you fight back against the insurance company’s surveillance efforts and defend you if surveillance information is used to dispute your valid workers’ comp claim.
Call Our Workers’ Comp Lawyers Today
At Matt Fendon Law Group, our lawyers know how upsetting surveillance can be. We’ll work vigorously to protect your claim and your privacy.
We can help with every part of your workers’ compensation claim — no matter where you are in the process. Founding attorney Matt Fendon is a board-certified specialist in workers’ compensation law by the State Bar of Arizona. The entire law firm is staffed by attorneys dedicated exclusively to representing injured and disabled workers throughout the state. To learn more about how we can help, call or contact us for a free consultation.