Who’s Following You After Your Work Injury?

Posted on September 18, 2019

Workers’ compensation insurers often put injured employees under surveillance to avoid paying benefits after a work-related injury. A variety of tactics may be used to monitor a worker’s activity.

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Workers Comp Investigators

Although Illinois law requires all employers to provide workers compensation insurance for their employees, workers’ comp claims are sometimes challenged by insurance companies. In an effort to deny or minimize a claim, an insurance investigator may use various surveillance tactics to gather damaging evidence against an injured worker.

  • Direct Contact – Calling a worker’s home
  • Personal Interviews  – Interviewing coworkers, family, friends, and neighbors
  • Direct Surveillance – Following a worker on daily errands and appointments
  • Video Surveillance – Taking photos or videos in public places
  • Online Surveillance – Monitoring social media posts and internet activity

Investigators are hired to monitor an injured worker’s daily activities such as trips to the doctor’s office, recreational and social events, children’s’ school events, and social media posts. With today’s advanced technology, investigators often rely on video surveillance from drones and remote technology to gather evidence. Surveillance techniques play a major role in catching workers in a lie about their injuries. Simply posting a photo or video on Facebook or Instagram may have a negative impact on a workers’ comp claim, if it shows a questionable injury.

Surveillance may seem like an extreme measure, but insurers don’t need a lot of evidence to disprove a claim. When a claim is filed with a workers comp lawyer, an employee must show that he/she can not perform his/her normal job tasks due to injuries. This could be a repetitive stress injury that prevents computer work, a lower back injury that prevents lifting, or a neck injury that requires rest and rehabilitation. If a worker alleges debilitating pain and immobility from a back injury and is then seen on surveillance playing with the kids in the park, the workers’ compensation claim will likely be denied.

Employees should be aware that surveillance by insurance investigators raises important privacy concerns for all workers who file claims. While it is legal for an insurance investigator to photograph or video an employee in a public place, it is not legal in places where the worker has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The law prevents any individual from observing or intruding upon someone in the privacy of their own home, so insurance investigators may not cross that line.