Workers’ Compensation Investigators: What They Can & Can’t Do
September 16, 2022
You filed a workers’ comp claim after being injured on the job. Now, you have the creepy feeling that someone might be watching you. Your instincts could be right. There could be a workers’ comp investigator following you. In Pennsylvania, employers and their insurance companies often work with private investigators on the heels of workers’ compensation claims. And in many cases, the law gives them the freedom to surveil the injured worker within generous parameters.
Suspicion of Workers’ Compensation Fraud
This type of “spying” happens because your employer is trying to make sure you are not committing workers’ compensation fraud. For instance, you could be claiming a back injury exists when it does not, or you might be able to return to work but simply do not want to. Other ways of committing workers’ comp fraud include:
- Faking an injury altogether
- Not following doctor’s orders to prolong the work injury
- Collecting benefits when you are not actually injured
- Returning to work but continuing to collect benefits
- Working a side job while collecting disability benefits
Types of Workers’ Comp Injury Surveillance
Here are four ways your employer or their insurance company might be keeping tabs on you after you have filed a workers’ comp claim.
1. Checking Your Social Media Accounts
If you have any sort of social media account, your employer or the insurance company could be checking it for evidence that contradicts your workplace injury claim. For example, if you claim you cannot work because of a back injury, but your social media accounts show you engaging in activities that require a lot of movement, the insurance company could use this evidence to deny your claim.
2. Hiring a Private Investigator
As mentioned above, your employer or the insurance company representing them could hire a private investigator to follow you and collect evidence that contradicts your claim. The investigator might take photos or videos of you engaging in activities that you said you could not do because of your injuries.
3. Putting You Under Surveillance at Work
If you are still working while receiving workers’ compensation benefits, your employer could put you under surveillance at work to see if you are really as injured as you claim to be. They might do this by setting up hidden cameras or asking your co-workers to report any suspicious behavior.
4. Checking Your Health and Employment Records
Your employer or their insurance company could also request your health records from your doctor to see if there is any evidence that contradicts your claim. They could also request your employment records to see if you have been working while receiving benefits.
If you think you are being followed or surveilled by a workers’ compensation investigator, it is important to speak with an experienced lawyer. They can help you understand your rights and options.
Should You Worry About The Investigation?
If a private investigator can prove that you are not as hurt as you claim, you could be in big trouble. Beyond having your workers’ compensation claim denied, you could face charges including fines and other penalties.
However, if you are being honest and are truly too injured to work, the private investigator should find no evidence to the contrary. Still, he or she may push the boundaries of legality to invade your space. That is why you should understand the types of legal and illegal surveillance techniques that can be used to prove or disprove your workers’ comp claim.
What Are Workers’ Comp Investigators Allowed To Do?
Legal and Illegal Surveillance:
There are certain rules that workers comp investigators must follow. Some of the rules that law-abiding private investigators are mandated to follow when they conduct surveillance include:
- Only taking videos or photographs in the public space. Such locations can include houses of worship.
- Tracking someone’s movements when they are in public but respecting their private spaces.
- Keeping a record of everything someone does publicly for some time.
- Engaging in direct contact with family members, employees, or other people who know the claimant about what the claimant normally does, such as working on his car or spending hours at the tennis courts.
Private investigators cross the line when they:
- Enter the private property, whether or not someone is at home;
- Take video or pictures through windows or openings into private property, such as the claimant’s residence or garden area; or
- Put audio or video surveillance equipment on or in private property to acquire information and images, or to conduct online surveillance of your electronic devices.
What to Do If You Feel Unsafe
Although many types of surveillance are uncomfortable, they are not necessarily illegal. Still, if you feel that a private investigator is crossing the line, you have rights:
- Contact your local law enforcement agency.
- Document all your experiences. This protects you and keeps your private life from becoming public. It also gives you more peace of mind moving forward.
Do not be alarmed if a private investigator is on your workers’ comp case. In addition to the above actions, you should also consult with your workers’ compensation attorney.
Other Tips To Aid Your Workers’ Comp Case
While being followed by a workers’ comp investigator can be unnerving, there are other ways you can help your claim:
- Work with an attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation law.
- File all the necessary paperwork and do so on time.
- Gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim.
- Avoid posting anything about your case on social media.
- Keep a diary of your symptoms and how they affect your daily life.
- If you have any questions or concerns, speak with your physician.
By understanding the process and what to expect, you can help ensure a successful outcome for your case.
Call For A Free Case Evaluation
Being injured while at work is stressful enough. Having someone following you around for days or weeks can be mentally draining. If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim, you do not have to go through the experience alone. Contact a Philadelphia workers’ comp lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. today. We can help you navigate the process of being surveilled, as well as submit any appeals if your original claim is denied. Schedule a free consultation by calling 888-PITT-LAW or completing an online contact form.