We’ve all seen it in the movies and on television. The police suspect illegal activities are going on in a certain house, so they set up a surveillance van. The occupants keep an eye on the comings and goings of suspects, taking photographs or a video of everything they can see from the street in hopes of catching someone in the act.
In the case of people filing for worker’s compensation, a growing number of them are becoming the suspects in this situation. Worker’s compensation insurance companies, self-insured corporations, and even municipal and county governments frequently hire private investigators to see if there is any evidence of fraud or activities that could be used to deny the claim.
Surveillance of worker’s compensation recipients is an aspect most applicants don’t expect when they need to take advantage of the law concerning compensation for injuries sustained on the job. But claimants should be aware that more and more insurance providers are seeking to deny claims and save money using surveillance techniques, whether or not fraud is suspected.
Private Investigator Surveillance
Many online sources document complaints and questions from worker’s compensation claimants who suspect they are being watched. On one site, a workers comp client said he noticed a strange van parked across the street during a family barbecue. The front windows were rolled down and the occupant had a camera. This surveillance went on for several days, and the “suspect” ended up using binoculars to watch the watcher, who eventually drove off. The police had been notified, but once they had checked out the van and spoke to the person inside, there was little else they could do.
Generally, private investigators are trained to know the state’s laws on what types of surveillance are allowed and what constitutes an invasion of privacy. Many will inform the police about their plans so there will be no confusion. They won’t, however, inform the subject.
Privacy and Stalking Laws
Knowing you’re being watched is an unnerving experience, even when you’re doing nothing wrong. In most cases, the subject will just have to put up with the nuisance if the private investigator knows his/her business.Although there are privacy laws to protect individuals’ rights, generally anyone can watch or take photos of private property as long what they are watching is in public view. If someone in a yard or inside a house can be seen with the naked eye from public property without having to take special measures, like climbing an overhanging tree, a private investigator can take all the photos he wants. He just can’t use extra enhancers, such as a night vision apparatus or a telescopic lens.
Stalking can be another matter, if it is suspected the investigator is purposefully trying to intimidate the subject of the surveillance. Stalking, in Georgia, is defined as surveillance, following, or contact with intent to intimidate or harass, and it is a misdemeanor. If you suspect you are being watched, contact a worker’s compensation attorney for advice.