Workers' compensation claims can be a big expense not only for the insurer but also for your employer. And some employers take large workers' comp claims personally, trying to prove a claim false and besmirch the employee. This means that anyone who pursued a workers' comp case should be prepared to be investigated and surveilled by the carrier or employer.
What might they legally do? And how can you protect yourself and your claim? Here are a few of the most common investigation tactics.
1. Online Surveillance
Workers' comp carriers can learn a lot from an employee's online footprint. They may look for social media posts, pictures of activity, mentions by friends' accounts, details of clubs or hobbies, and your whereabouts. Your attorney may recommend you make all accounts private and refrain from posting. You may even ask your closest friends and family to do the same.
2. Direct Observation
As long as the observer stays on public property, they can generally watch you going about your daily life. This is disconcerting, but it's often legal by state laws. Don't panic if you suspect direct observation. Do act as though you could be observed at any time. Ask yourself how an outside activity might look to a jury before you start it.
3. Phone Calls and Email
The carrier's lawyers or their investigators will likely call or try to communicate with you in other ways. They may pepper you with questions, which can be intimidating. Do not speak with anyone about your injuries or your case unless you've discussed it with your lawyer. They may advise you to only speak in controlled situations like depositions.
4. Talking With Others
Prepare your friends and family for the possibility that a lawyer may call them or try to speak with them in person. This is a way to get information about your injuries or what you're doing with your time from those who may be 'in the know'. Let others know that they should also refrain from speaking about your case with anyone you have not authorized.
5. Photos and Video
Probably the most intrusive investigation technique is taking photos or videos of you. As with direct observation, this may be legal in your state when in public. However, know where your rights begin. For example, most states stipulate that the person can't enter private property to take photos or videos. Others may require you to give consent to a recording.
Where to Start
The best way to protect your rights in the face of potentially intrusive and even unlawful surveillance is to learn more about them. Start by meeting with a qualified workers' compensation attorney in your state today.