Surveillance And Workers Compensation

private investigator holding binocularsIf you’ve been injured on the job, there’s a strong possibility that someone is watching you. If you’re struggling to get well and go back to work, the idea of being watched probably sounds a little creepy. But “activity checks” are a common insurance adjuster technique for figuring out if a workers’ compensation claim is legitimate.

Surveillance can allow an insurance company to see what you do when you think no one is watching. The person watching you, snapping photos, or shooting a video could be an independent investigator hired to do the job. It could be the nice staff insurance adjuster who calls you occasionally to see how you’re doing. Whoever conducts your surveillance may choose to accomplish the task in one or more ways.

  • Follow you when you leave the house
  • Park across the street, pull out a camera and wait for something interesting to happen
  • Knock on your door and pretend to be a salesman
  • Interview your neighbors about you
  • Make an appointment for a status interview

Why would the insurance company watch you?

Insurance adjusters don’t spend time watching every injured worker who files a comp claim. However, certain triggers in your claim file might make it likely that they will watch you. Surveillance is usually reserved for cases with certain circumstances.

Here are a few:

1. Long term disabilities

If your injury is minor or you return to work quickly, you’re not likely to see a guy with a camera staring at your front door. If your disability has continued longer than the insurance company disability tables suggest, they may want the additional proof that surveillance offers.

2. Chronic pain

If you sustain an injury that causes long term pain but doesn’t necessarily show up on an xray or scan, it doesn’t mean that you’re not injured. Still adjusters get suspicious when a doctor can only confirm or deny your injury based on how much pain you say you feel. Your back or muscle injury claim could make you a prime candidate for surveillance.

3. A history of prior injuries and claims

Many insurance companies require adjusters to file the details of new injury claims with the Central Index Bureau. The Insurance company service organization maintains decades of records on people who have filed injury claims. If the new index submission for your comp claim triggers a match for previous claims or similar injuries, adjusters will often feel the need to dig deeper.

Someone might be watching you

When you’re injured on the job, the claim you file becomes an open invitation for the insurance company to check out everything about you. Surveillance is just one of the techniques they use. They might also have an expert review your medical records, send you to their own doctor for an examination, or run a credit check to review your financial situation.

The fact that someone might be watching you shouldn’t intimidate you into cutting your treatment short or returning to work before you’re ready. It should make you a bit more conscientious about following your doctor’s orders, resting when you should, and not overexerting yourself. Remember, someone might be watching.