What Do Workers’ Compensation Investigators Look For?
by Eric Chaffin | Last Updated: May 8, 2021
If you file a worker’s comp claim due to a workplace injury, your employer’s insurance company will expend significant resources to confirm that your injuries really are serious enough to prevent you from returning to work at this time. That is why many insurance companies hire private investigators to monitor injured employees to see if the worker is committing fraud.
Not everyone with a workplace injury needs to fear an investigator following them. If the injury is relatively minor and a prompt recovery and return to work is expected, hiring a private investigator is usually not cost-effective for the insurer.
However, workers with a prior history of workers’ comp claims, or those filing a large claim, are more likely to have an investigator monitor their recovery. Even if benefits were denied, that does not mean an investigator is not following you to bolster the employer’s case if an appeal is expected.
A Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer at Chaffin Luhana can advise you on protecting your rights to compensation in the wake of a serious workplace accident.
Investigators often use video surveillance to determine whether the worker is still as injured as they claim. The most common site for such surveillance is outside of the doctor’s office – since under workers’ comp, healthcare providers are selected by the insurer – or during a workers’ compensation hearing.
Surveillance cameras may record you entering or leaving the building. For example, the individual may enter the building on crutches, but after the appointment or hearing, walk back into the parking lot on their own two feet.
Such time and date-stamped video evidence may help to prove that the worker is not as physically challenged as he or she currently claims to be. When recovering from a workplace injury, keep in mind that video surveillance is always a possibility.
Surveillance does not require the use of video. It is legal for the insurance company to use standard investigative techniques while monitoring you and your condition.
That includes asking neighbors, friends, and anyone else who may come on to your property about your activities and level of physical disability. They can also make phone calls to your home.
While it is not always possible to recognize a private investigator – they are trained to remain hidden and discreet – they are some telltale signs that you are being monitored surreptitiously. Be aware of your surroundings and take notice of cars with tinted windows, or people with sunglasses, baseball caps, and other ways of hiding their appearance.
Trust your instincts.
What investigators cannot do
Workers’ comp investigators must obey the law. They cannot entrap a worker, perhaps by posing as someone delivering packages and taking photos when the person answers the door.
They cannot use fraudulent names to obtain information from the worker, nor can they trespass on the individual’s property.
Of course, that does not mean these investigators always obey the law. If you suspect an investigator is monitoring you in an illegal way, contact your attorney.
Social media postings by a person receiving workers’ comp benefits can hurt them. Investigators can view social media posts if the settings permit.
If someone is on workers’ comp due to injury, it is not wise to post photos of themselves hiking, cycling, or participating in other active pursuits. The insurance company can easily argue that a person capable of taking part in 5Ks or similar activities is capable of returning to the workplace.
Protect yourself by not posting any content on social media that could easily be misconstrued. Consider not posting anything until your recovery is complete.
What to do while recuperating
Since you must assume that you are always under surveillance, make sure you follow the doctor’s orders to a T.
If you are not supposed to walk, do not do it, even if it is just for a short distance.
Contact a Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyer
If you are receiving workers’ comp and want to know more about the investigation process and your rights, a Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyer at Chaffin Luhana can answer your questions. If you are experiencing issues with your workers’ comp claim, call us 24/7 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.