Surveillance in Auto Industry Workers' Compensation Claims

Lawyers for Employees Injured on the Job in Chicago

Workers’ compensation insurers are alert to the possibility of workers’ compensation fraud. While private investigators are not hired routinely, when there are substantial injuries in which a worker is not returning to work or there are certain elements to the claim that the insurer finds suspicious, the insurer may retain a private investigator to look into whether the claim is legitimate. Sometimes surveillance is used to get information that can be used in mediations, settlement conferences, or even hearings. If you suspect your insurer does not believe you are really injured or that are being subject to surveillance with regard to your auto industry workers’ compensation claim, a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help you protect your rights.

Surveillance in Auto Industry Workers’ Compensation Claims

Insurers make take note of certain elements in a claim that they consider red flags. For example, a red flag for an insurer might be that the length of recovery time is too long for the particular injury. A red flag might go up if an injured employee develops new symptoms or problems months after the initial accident. Another red flag would be a claimant’s spouse or partner also collecting disability income. Yet another red flag would be an employee who asks for an excessive amount of pain pills.

Sometimes private investigators visit the home of claimants to see whether the injury is real and whether it’s as serious as what the claimant says. The investigator may photograph or videotape the injured employee while he or she is working at another job or doing yard work or making repairs to the car or home. Where a claimant has alleged he or she needs medical equipment like a cane, the investigator may visit and take pictures showing the injured claimant doesn’t use the cane while making repairs or while walking the dog or going to the store. An investigator may also visit when the claimant isn’t there to gather other information, and come back days or weeks later to conduct further surveillance.

Surveillance done in public is generally legal. An investigator may be hired to tail you to catch you playing with your kids or lifting weights. Their objective is to find you doing something your doctor said you shouldn’t do or that you claimed you couldn’t do. The purpose of seeking out this information is stop or deny the benefits you are receiving or requesting. For example, if you need to have a major surgery, an insurer might conduct surveillance in order to avoid paying for the surgery. Similarly, information might be gathered for settlement talks in which you are trying to get permanent disability benefits.

Seeking Workers’ Compensation Benefits

It is crucial for you to be honest about your injury when seeking benefits, and also to follow any directions given to you by your doctor. If your doctor tells you to stop lifting weights, you should stop lifting weights. If you suffer a spinal injury and your doctor advises you that you can no longer pick up anything over five pounds, including your newborn, you shouldn’t. You should be very careful, especially if you suspect you’re under surveillance. Most surveillance videos are not useful because the claimant is honestly injured and acts appropriately. Sometimes, however, someone is honestly injured and doesn’t follow doctors’ orders or takes risks that he or she shouldn’t. These are cases in which you may be denied or lose benefits if you are under surveillance. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you respond to these issues if they arise in your case.

Social Media Surveillance

Social media is often used for surveillance. Sometimes surveillance is conducted over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Xanga or Pinterest. Most people display only the positive events that happen to them on social media. However, if you have a workers’ compensation claim, you should be aware that insurers may use those social media accounts to spy on claimants. You should not only restrict what you post but also avoid being tagged by your family members and friends. You should not accept friend requests or retain “friends” you don’t know. When you post something, you should consider how somebody who is skeptical that you’re really injured would respond to your post. For example, if you sustained a spinal injury in an auto manufacturing plant, and you are tagged in a post showing you lifting someone’s child at a Christmas lunch, an insurer may look at that as evidence of you malingering.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Serving Chicago

If you have suffered significant work injuries and suspect you’re being subject to surveillance in your auto industry workers’ compensation claim in Chicago, our experienced lawyers may be able to help. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we also represent auto workers in Quincy, Rockford, Springfield, Champaign, and Aurora, as well as Winnebago, Adams, Cook, Champaign, Sangamon, and Kane Counties. We will also evaluate the facts of each client’s case to figure out whether damages in a personal injury lawsuit or SSDI may be available. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contact us online.