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Workers Comp Surveillance

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Workers’ Comp Surveillance           

Is it possible that Workers’ Comp is using surveillance to follow you?  The short answer is YES, workers comp surveillance is a fairly common practice.

It is quite possible that workers comp is using a private investigator to follow you on various occasions in hopes to catch you doing something physical that could potentially damage your claim.  On any given day you can bet there is an investigator following some injured worker in Maryland.  Keep in mind if they are not following you there is still a chance that workers comp surveillance may be using social media or electronics surveillance.

 

For a free consultation call workers compensation attorney and personal injury attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh now!  Call Us, Click to email  or just fill out the form at the bottom of the page and Mr. Rodabaugh will contact you!

 

There are specific times workers comp surveillance may be used

Private investigators are not cheap and workers compensation insurers are certainly in the business to save money so they often choose specific times to arrange surveillance rather than dispatch for a full day.  As a former  defense attorney I would always attempt to set up workers comp surveillance at times when I was certain the injured worker was at a specific place.  One very common time is when the insurance company has scheduled an Independent Medical Evaluation (what is an IME).  The private investigator will wait for the injured worker to leave his or her house and follow them to the appointment in hopes to catch a change in behavior from the time the worker leaves his house to when he arrives at the IME facility.  For example the injured worker may not use a cane exiting their home but will use it upon arrival at the IME.

Another common time workers comp surveillance will be used is when there is a hearing coming up on the case.  Often workers compensation claims fall to the wayside of the defense attorney or insurance adjuster until a hearing is pending.  Then they will start actively working the file and realize it may be one that they should attempt to use surveillance.

Should I be concerned that I am or may be under workers comp surveillance?

Absolutely.  You can be the most honest person at all times and surveillance could still cause damage to your workers comp case.  It is important to not let the worry of workers comp surveillance take ahold of you emotionally.  Just be aware of your surroundings and when considering doing something physical take extra steps of precaution.

Workers Comp Surveillance Scenario 1:

In many if not all of the cases I handle my clients have good days and bad days which result in different physical capabilities each day.  Often, that one good day out of the month results in the injured worker doing something more physical than they are ordinarily capable of performing.  Perhaps the injured worker is not usually able to take out the trash because of his or her injured shoulder.  That one day he ventures to do so.  It is inevitably that one day the  private investigator will have his camera rolling and get the workers comp surveillance he or she needs.

Six months later the injured worker will be asked, under oath, at a workers compensation hearing, whether he or she is able to take out the trash.  The answer- “no.”  This answer is relayed because the injured worker has been unable to take out the trash for the duration of the injury which is sometimes  years.  That one time trip to the end of the driveway is long forgotten and was not specifically noted by the worker because it was seemingly harmless activity.

Not only is the claimant then viewed as untrustworthy by the workers compensation commissioner, but the insurance company and defense attorney will begin to fight the case even harder.

Workers Comp Surveillance Scenario 2:

Injured workers are often advised by their physicians to remain on light duty restrictions until further notice.  Once placed on light duty workers comp may have to start paying lost wages to the injured worker.  When these payments start workers comp is much more likely to consider using surveillance on the injured worker because surveillance, should be successful, could save thousands of dollars for them.  With the light duty restrictions in place by the doctor the workers comp surveillance investigator will know exactly what to look for- the injured worker doing some physical activity outside of the restrictions.

There may be a very thin line as to what the injured worker can do and can not do. 

Suppose, the treating doctor advises the injured worker to lift no more than 10 pounds with the injured shoulder until further notice.  The employer has no job that fits these limitations so the injured worker is placed out of work and begins getting lost wage payments.  A month later the injured worker is at the grocery store with his spouse and on the way out to the car his spouse is struggling with the bag of dog food.  The injured worker helps his wife by picking the bag up and carrying.  Unfortunately the bag is a 15 pound of dog food and surveillance gets the picture which later leads to lost wages being terminated and the necessity for a hearing before the Workers Compensation Commission.

What injured workers are more likely to be followed by workers comp surveillance 

There are a number of factors that may contribute to workers comp’s decision to pay for surveillance on a particular case.  In large part it depends on the insurance company, the insurance adjuster, or the defense attorney.  Some insurance companies have a policy that they simply do not use surveillance (or so they say) while others only have an allotted amount of money to use on surveillance.  Notwithstanding these considerations, there are some factors in a particular case that make the claim more likely a surveillance claim.

    The length of time the injured worker was with the employer before they were injured.  If the employment only lasted a few months, a few weeks, perhaps a few days, the workers comp adjuster is more likely to consider surveillance use.

    The number of workers comp claims an injured worker has had prior to the case at hand.  Repeated claim filings often lead to weaker cases but also more suspicion on the insurance companies part.  If there are multiple claims with the same employer the use of surveillance may be imminent.

    The reputation of the employee.  Hard working, likable, loyal, employees are less likely to be subject to workers comp surveillance compared to those employees that have a questionable attendance records or have had issues with co-workers in the past.

    Unfortunately the financial exposure alone may justify the use of surveillance.  The injured worker could be the perfect employee who has done nothing wrong but if there is the potential for significant expense for workers comp then there is justification for them to spend a few thousand dollars on surveillance in hopes to catch that perfect employee making minor mistake.  The minor mistake could prove to be devastating for the claim.

 What should the injured employee do about workers comp surveillance?

When asked at a Maryland workers compensation hearing or other proceedings make sure to answer the questions very carefully.  If asked about your capabilities be certain in your response.  Sometimes it is best to respond with a hypothetical answer such as “I could take out the trash but with lots of pain,” rather than “I can not take out the trash,” or “I may have taken out the trash but ordinarily do not because of the pain.”

While your physician is holding you out of work with restrictions be sure to make the best effort to obey the doctors orders.  While it is understandable the injured worker may slip up occasionally and lift a few pounds to much, or be on their feet a bit longer than allowed, often these slip ups can irreparably damage a workers compensation claim.

If you feel that you are under workers comp surveillance then you should call a Maryland workers compensation attorney immediately.  If at anytime you feel as though the investigator is placing you at risk of further injury, or is braking the law then do not be afraid to call the police.  It is important to be cognizant of your surroundings when you are under the microscope of “workers comp.”

Retaining a qualified and experienced Maryland workers compensation attorney is the best plan of action and if there are implications that surveillance is being used against you there should be no hesitation in contacting an attorney for a free consultation.

 

For a free consultation call workers compensation attorney and personal injury attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh now!  Call Us, Click to email  or just fill out the form at the bottom of the page and Mr. Rodabaugh will contact you!

 

My experience with the law firm of Cohen and Dwin was very professional. Mr Rodabaugh was very kind and easy to talk to in a very professional manner. The receptionists were helpful in guiding me through the procedures. I would definitely recommend Mr Rodabaugh in the future.
David B.CosmotologistBaltimore

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Workers Comp Surveillance
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Workers Comp Surveillance
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Workers comp surveillance is used and the injured worker should take some precautions. Seemingly harmless activity can damage a case.
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Work Injury Maryland
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