If you’ve ever had a workplace injury and filed a worker’s comp claim, you know how important it is to prove the seriousness of your injuries. But did you know that your employer’s insurance company may go to great lengths to confirm the validity of your claim? This often involves hiring private investigators to monitor injured employees and uncover possible cases of fraud.
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Who Gets Investigated?
Not every worker with a workplace injury has to worry about being followed by an investigator. Typically, if your injury is minor and a quick recovery is expected, it’s not cost-effective for the insurance company to hire an investigator. However, certain factors increase the likelihood of being monitored. Workers with a history of previous workers’ comp claims or those filing a large claim are more likely to be under scrutiny. Even if your benefits were denied, an investigator may still be watching to strengthen your employer’s case in the event of an appeal.
Video Surveillance: Catching You in the Act
One of the most common methods investigators use is video surveillance. They often position cameras outside the doctor’s office or during a workers’ compensation hearing—significant points where they can observe your actions. For instance, they may record you entering or leaving the building on crutches, only to see you walk on your own two feet afterward. Such evidence with time and date stamps can undermine your claims of being physically challenged. Remember, video surveillance is always a possibility when you’re recovering from a workplace injury.
Non-Video Surveillance: An Investigator’s Toolbox
Surveillance doesn’t always require video footage. Investigators use various techniques to monitor your activities and condition. They may approach your neighbors, friends, or anyone who enters your property to gather information about your physical disability and daily routines. They may even make phone calls to your home. While it’s challenging to identify a private investigator, be mindful of your surroundings. Look out for cars with tinted windows or people wearing sunglasses and baseball caps, trying to remain inconspicuous. Trust your instincts and stay vigilant.
Investigator Boundaries: What They Can and Cannot Do
Workers’ comp investigators are bound by the law and must operate within its limits. They cannot entrap you or obtain information fraudulently. For example, they cannot pose as delivery personnel to take photos of you when you open the door. Trespassing on your property or using fake identities to gather information is strictly prohibited. However, it’s essential to remember that investigators may not always follow these rules. If you suspect any illegal activity, contact your attorney immediately.
Social Media: The Double-Edged Sword
In today’s digital age, social media plays a significant role in workers’ comp investigations. Insurance companies and investigators can access your social media posts if your privacy settings permit. Therefore, it’s crucial to be careful about the content you share online. Avoid posting pictures of yourself engaging in physically demanding activities like hiking or cycling while receiving workers’ comp benefits. Insurance companies can easily argue that you’re capable of returning to work if you’re actively participating in such activities. Until your recovery is complete, refrain from posting potentially compromising content on social media.
Stay on the Right Track
While recuperating from a workplace injury, it’s essential to follow your doctor’s orders diligently. Always assume that you’re under surveillance and adhere strictly to your medical instructions. Even if it’s tempting to push your limits, remember that any action caught on camera or reported by investigators can be used against you.
Seek Legal Guidance
Navigating the workers’ comp investigation process can be overwhelming. If you have questions or concerns about the investigation or your rights, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice. A Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyer at Chaffin Luhana is ready to provide the answers you need. If you’re experiencing issues with your workers’ comp claim, we’re here for you 24/7. Schedule a free consultation with us online or give us a call.
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