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What You can do if Worker’s Comp Has You Under Surveillance

Some insurance companies may hate sending you a weekly check while you’re recovering from your on-the-job injury. They’re in business to make money, not give it away.

Every time you receive workers’ compensation benefits, that is money coming out of the insurance company’s pocket and going into yours instead. That’s why some insurance companies may try to find ways to avoid paying you benefits. Sometimes that means an insurance company may completely deny responsibility to pay for your injury. When this happens, they pay you no benefits at all, while you fight (sometimes for years) for what you potentially deserve.

Worker’s Comp Insurance Tactics to Pay You Less

Delay

This is what we refer to as their “delay” tactic. We have seen some insurance companies try to wait out the injured worker while they’re hurt, out of work, and in financial distress. We believe they are waiting you out. The longer they wait, the more urgent your need for money becomes, and the less compensation you may be likely to settle for. And that means less money they have to pay out.

Deny

But shortchanging you is not the only way some insurance companies may try to help themselves. Even when an insurance company accepts responsibility for your work injury, they can at any time, try to reduce or even stop paying you benefits.

We have seen them try to cut off injured workers’ weekly checks. Other times they may try to avoid paying for a recommended medical procedure.

No matter how the insurance company may try to keep money for themselves, it is you, the injured worker, who is simply trying to get better and go back to work, that ends up paying the price.

Surveillance

Do insurance companies randomly decide one day that they are not going to pay you? Of course not. They must have “proof” that they don’t have to pay you. To help enlist them in their efforts, they will try to piece together “evidence” to prove your benefits should be decreased or stopped altogether.

We have seen some insurance companies resort to hiring a private investigator to spy on you to try to gain the evidence they need against you.

They may hire investigators to follow you to the gas station or the grocery store or any errand. They may watch you pick up your kids at school. They may stake out your house and neighborhood at all hours of the day and night. The goal is always the same: to create reports, photographs, and video that make it appear that you are not as badly injured as you claim. Then, if the insurance company can create that impression in the mind of a doctor or judge, they may be able to cut you off or shortchange you – even if they have previously admitted responsibility for your injury.

5 Ways to Handle Insurance Company Spying

You cannot stop the insurance company from hiring an investigator to watch you. But you can be smart about your behavior so that you aren’t making it easy for them to avoid paying you benefits.

  1. Always follow your doctor’s orders. Your doctor knows best what activities you should avoid while you heal. If the doctor tells you not to lift more than 10 pounds, don’t lift more than 10 pounds. The biggest risk of surveillance is that the investigator will see you doing something outside the restrictions put on you by the doctor. If that happens and the doctor is allowed to see the surveillance, the doctor may think you have been exaggerating your symptoms. In a worst-case scenario, the doctor may decide to no longer treat you.
  2. Be thoughtful. If you aren’t following your doctor’s orders about activity restriction, it may not necessarily be because you are not injured. More likely it might be because you weren’t thinking about what you were doing, or you were in a hurry, or distracted. Life happens, and you have to lift your 20-lb toddler out of her car seat. That happens to all of us. But when you have a work injury, and an insurance company may be paying someone to watch you, the cost of being thoughtless can be significant. Violating your doctor’s restrictions just a handful of times could suggest to the insurance company and the doctor that you’re not as injured as you claim to be.
  3. Remember: appearances count. Sometimes surveillance can be harmful even when you are not caught doing something against your doctor’s wishes. Even simple appearances can be enough to cause problems. For example, let’s say your doctor told you not to push more than 10 pounds. And let’s say you’re mowing your lawn with a self-propelled lawnmower that doesn’t require pushing more than 10 pounds. And let’s further say there’s an investigator recording you. All the doctor may see when he watches this video is someone who is well enough to do yard work, including pushing a potentially heavy lawnmower. You can explain to the doctor that the mower is self-propelled, but the damage may already be done. We are not suggesting you become paranoid, but it is important to be aware of how your activity may look to an outsider.
  4. Don’t talk to a suspected investigator. If you think an investigator is watching you, don’t confront them or interact with them. They will not be intimidated by you, and they will only use the interaction to gather information from you that the insurance company may later try to use against you.
  5. Hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. When you try to take on the insurance company yourself, it is not a fair fight. History tells us that many insurance companies may try to figure out ways to maximize their profits and minimize your They have adjusters and lawyers, many of whom spend their time trying to determine the best ways to do this. Surveillance is just one tactic they sometimes rely on.

Get Your Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

To try to make sure the insurance companies do not use surveillance or any other self-serving tactic to deny you benefits, call the Law offices of James Scott Farrin. Our workers’ comp attorneys represent clients throughout North Carolina and have the knowledge, experience, and dedication needed to try to see to it that the insurance company doesn’t get away with painting your injuries to be less than they really are, just to save a few bucks. Contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078. Your initial case evaluation is absolutely free.

Michael Roessler joined the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in 2015, handling workers’ compensation cases. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Roessler represented personal injury and workers’ compensation clients for more than five years. He is an adjunct professor of Political Science at Queens University of Charlotte, where he has taught pre-law since 2010.

Mr. Roessler earned his J.D., with honors, from the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill and a B. A. from Queens University of Charlotte, where he double majored in History and Political Science.

In law school, Mr. Roessler received numerous awards and honors. He was selected to join both regional and national Holderness Moot Court teams and the Broun National Trial Team, where he and his team were national quarterfinalists.

Originally Mr. Roessler set out to pursue a journalism career. He wrote multiple news articles and opinion columns for the Mooresville Tribune (NC) and the Independent Tribune (Concord-Kannapolis, NC). However, after befriending some local attorneys who were advocating for the more marginalized members of his community, he realized his passion lay with those members of society. Soon after, he enrolled in law school and became an attorney in an effort to help advocate for those individuals’ rights.

Contact Information

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4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-834-1184
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Durham, NC 27701
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Sanford, NC 27330
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Winston-Salem, NC 27101
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