Understand how insurance companies monitor workers so you can protect yourself
Workers’ compensation benefits offer you financial relief after an on-the-job injury. While you might be grateful for the funds, the insurance company might be less than excited to see the money leaving their accounts. If you’ve ever wondered if insurance companies hire private investigators, then you’re already on the right track to protecting your interests during a workers’ comp claim.
Common workers’ comp surveillance tactics
In the past, workers’ comp investigator tactics often focused on methods such as physically following someone to see if they did something that proved they were lying about their injury. Although this strategy is still sometimes used, modern technology has created new options for investigators.
Investigators are incredibly resourceful, and it’s possible that someone could be watching your activities without being physically present. Use the following tips to help defend yourself against the most common insurance company surveillance tactics:
Pay attention to what you put on social media
Online surveillance has become one of the most popular workers’ comp investigator tactics we see today. Not only can an investigator complete this monitoring from the comfort of their office, but they also have a wide range of sources that they can pull from for evidence.
Your social media profile is one of the easiest ways that an investigator might find information to use against you. Making your profile private is your best way to halt this tactic, but you’ll also need to be cautious about anything you post online.
Expect them to use video and photographic evidence
People often believe that they can’t be videotaped if they’re on their own private property. While it’s true that an investigator can’t record you while peering through your bathroom window, they can absolutely get footage of you pushing the lawnmower across your yard.
In addition, you need to be aware of how you present yourself in public. Investigators have the right to take photos of you doing activities in which you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as pushing a heavy shopping cart at the grocery store.
Be wary of direct contact with strangers
Insurance company surveillance tactics are often so subtle that they might seem like nothing more than a passing conversation with a stranger. An investigator is allowed to speak to you directly and ask you about your injuries without disclosing that they work for the insurance company. Instead, they may pose as a well-wisher and take careful notes of anything you say about your injury or case.
Watch out for personal interviews with people from your social groups
The prospect of someone talking to your family about your case may make your skin crawl, but it happens. Investigators may attempt to talk with your family members, friends and coworkers about the incident.
Make sure to warn your loved ones that someone may try to talk to them about your injury. While you may know that your injury claim is valid, you don’t want your loved ones accidentally saying something that could undermine your case and affect your right to compensation.
Can workers’ comp tap your phone?
The answer to this question can get a little tricky depending on where you are at the time. In Arizona, tapping a person’s personal phone is usually illegal, but there are some ways that an investigator might get around this setback.
The state of Arizona does allow phone conversations to be recorded, provided that one party agrees or the investigator is a part of the conversation. Also, be aware that many companies record employee conversations that occur on company-owned phone lines, which means that your work phone calls could be heard by an investigator and recorded for evidence.
Is it possible for surveillance to continue after a settlement?
The majority of workers’ comp surveillance occurs during the early stages of the proceedings to identify false claims. However, workers’ comp surveillance after a settlement may still happen if the insurer has reason to believe that the settlement was granted under false pretenses or if they believe a key element of your case has changed.
To be safe, you should continue to monitor your behavior in public settings and follow your doctor’s orders even after receiving your settlement.
How else can you protect yourself during a workers’ comp claim?
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to assume that you are always under surveillance. Investigators don’t usually work a traditional 9-to-5 schedule, which means they could catch you accidentally lifting your sleeping toddler out of the car late at night when you briefly forget about your doctor’s orders.
Try to be mindful of every move you make and how it might appear to an investigator. Following your doctor’s treatment plan can help you avoid making costly mistakes that could impact your claim and your health.
If you believe that you’re under surveillance, be sure to mention this to your lawyer.
Being followed or having an investigator talk to your family members feels like an invasion of privacy, and it often is. However, there are lines that an investigator shouldn’t cross, and you should never be harassed or made to feel unsafe. Working with a worker’s comp lawyer from the beginning of your injury can help you learn how to protect yourself against harsh investigative tactics.