Surveillance is Not Your Friend if You’re an Injured Employee on Virginia Workers’ Comp
Surveillance is a tool used by workers’ compensation insurance companies to find a way to defend against your initial comp claim or to create a basis to file an employer’s application to suspend benefits if you’ve received an award agreement form.
This article explains the types of comp claims where insurance companies are likely to use surveillance and what you can do to preserve your legal right to workers compensation benefits – even if the insurer has the cameras rolling.
Remember that if you’ve filed a workers compensation claim in Virginia then you should be aware that the insurance company may hire a private investigator to conduct surveillance activities at any time. And if you have questions about your case or are looking for legal representation, call, text, or email Corey Pollard for a free consultation.
When Do Insurance Companies Use Surveillance?
Each year the Workers Compensation Commission hears thousands of cases. The volume of claims means that insurance companies must pick and choose when to conduct surveillance on an employee after a work injury. It is cost prohibitive to conduct surveillance in every comp case.
Here are cases where insurance companies are more likely to use surveillance:
- Cases where the insurance company has received a report of possible fraud or information from the employer or co-workers that the injured employee is exaggerating his or her injuries or is performing work elsewhere.
- Cases where the injured employee is likely to have permanent disability or to receive temporary total disability benefits for an extended period.
- In cases involving catastrophic work injuries, permanent total disability, or multiple surgeries it makes sense for the insurance company to use surveillance to try to reduce its liability exposure.
Where Do Private Investigators Conduct Surveillance?
Private investigators hired to conduct surveillance in Virginia workers compensation must do so within the bounds of the law and the Virginia Workers Compensation Act. To make sure that they’re acting ethically and legally, most private investigators will coordinate with the claims adjuster assigned to your comp case to determine when you will be in public.
Here are common events where the private investigator may conduct surveillance:
- When you have a doctor’s appointment, physical therapy appointment, or will be seen for an independent medical evaluation (IME).The insurance company knows when these events will take place.
- In discovery the insurance carrier may try to find out if you have any hobbies or if you belong to any social groups or civic organizations. If you do then the private investigator may conduct surveillance as you go to and from those events. The same is true if you have children who are involved in sports or extracurricular activities. The private investigator may try to videotape or photograph you in public at these events.
- When you do any other outside activities, such as mowing the lawn, going to the grocery store, walking to your mailbox, or sitting on your front porch.
What Does the Insurance Company Do with Surveillance?
If the insurance company is able to get surveillance footage of you performing activities outside of your restrictions then it will play the footage at your workers compensation hearing or show the footage to your treating physician to try to persuade him or her to release your restrictions.
There are ways to overcome unfavorable surveillance. For example, you may have had severe pain during and after performing the activity that was caught on tape. Or you may have had to increase your medication just to do the activity for a short period. Unfavorable surveillance footage does not mean you lose your case automatically. But you should contact a workers compensation attorney to help you protect your legal rights to workers compensation benefits in Virginia.
Contact us today if you’ve been hurt on the job. We can help you win your case, protect your right to benefits, or negotiate a workers compensation settlement. And there is no fee unless your benefits increase.