These agents of your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may lawfully follow you around while taking photos and video to be used against you in your workers’ compensation case. It is easy to dismiss the feeling that someone you see out of your peripheral vision is scrutinizing your actions without your knowledge or consent, but this type of surveillance is common in workers’ compensation cases.
The goal of workers’ compensation companies that use private investigators is to uncover evidence that cast suspicion on the severity of a claimant’s injuries and/or disability. This does not mean that the private investigator needs evidence that you are malingering or exaggerating your injuries. The investigator will settle for pictures or video that may look compromising even though they do not really establish that you are being dishonest about the extent of your injuries. Even if you are seriously injured, you will have good days and bad days. The investigator may get pictures of you bending down with a back injury or lifting boxes. While this may just be the result of having a good day, it may look compromising when presented as evidence.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys at Montlick and Associates advise claimant to always presume that they are under surveillance. Private investigators are skilled at avoiding detection, so claimants should avoid engaging in activities that may be construed as inconsistent with one’s injuries and against medical advice. Some activities are so ordinary that claimants may not even consider how they look on video or in pictures. For example, you may have been instructed not to lift over 10 pounds, but you can’t resist trying to pick up your daughter who weighs 50 pounds to hug her, even though you know it will hurt you a great deal and that it is against advice of your doctor. Much better to be safe- not hurt your back, and let her stand on a chair to hug her for example (as long as it is safe for her to do so).
While this does not mean that you should not leave your home, you should be vigilant in terms of exercising caution about how your actions might be perceived. Some private investigators may even use your medical appointments to obtain damaging information. Workers’ compensation investigators know that claimants frequently postpone or skip medical appointments and attempt to obtain information about such actions as evidence that your injuries are not severe. Investigators may even follow you to a medical appointment to engage you in a conversation in the waiting room that may yield damaging statements.
Many injured workers discuss their injuries on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. Workers’ compensation claimants may torpedo their own workers’ compensation cases by posting photos depicting themselves engaged in recreational sports, vacationing or participating in similar physical activities. It does not matter if potentially compromising photos or statements are hidden in password protected areas. You may be forced to provide access to private areas of your social network page so you should avoid posting anything potentially damaging.
Our experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.