Is Someone Watching Me?

In workers’ compensation claims, the insurance company will sometimes hire private investigators (PI) to conduct surveillance on injured workers. If they see an injured worker acting differently when at home than when at the doctor’s office, they will try to show the videotape to the doctor to undermine the doctor – patient relationship and have the doctor conclude the injured worker is over exaggerating their symptoms. They might also try to show this video to a judge in an attempt to have an injured workers’ benefits cut off before they return to work.

More often than not, however, what the insurance company pays for is a PI to watch an injured worker over several days with no abnormal activity whatsoever being videotaped. In fact, PIs will often take a series of innocuous normal activities and produce a “highlight reel” to make it seem the injured worker is more active than they really are in real time. They don’t like to admit the total time it took (often multiple days) to put together such a video, the rest inside it took the injured worker to recover from the activities, the amount of pain medication they were taking at the time of the activities or the fact that many doctors encourage their clients to be as active as possible as tolerated by pain. As long as injured workers are not engaging in activities in excess of their medical restrictions, things should be fine.

Just be mindful of what you are doing and how it might look to someone else who is looking to cut off your benefits. Be familiar with trespassing laws and look out for strange vehicles in the neighborhood, strange phone calls asking for information about your whereabouts and strangers asking your neighbors for information about you. If you ever fear for your safety, call the police immediately. And finally, alert your attorney if you have reason to believe you are under surveillance.