If you are like me, it is really creepy to think that someone may be following you around, taking photographs and videotaping your activities without your knowledge or consent. Perhaps you are one of those people who senses that someone is looking at you and you may think that you are losing you mind when you catch glimpses in your peripheral vision of someone that you just know you have seen before somewhere.
Welcome to life when you enter the workers’ compensation world. More and more, I am finding that my clients are being surveilled by private detectives hired by insurance companies. My colleagues in the claimant’s bar are reporting the same thing so I think that there is a concerted effort by insurance companies to manufacture evidence that can be used to deny claims.
Here is what an Atlanta are private investigator says about his approach to surveillance in an article written for an insurance industry publication:
Currently scheduled or future doctor’s appointments…are an investigator’s best friend. We prefer to work the first day of a case on the day of the appointment. We all know that claimants have a bad habit of not showing, canceling, and rescheduling, however a successful appointment allows the investigator to get activity, identify the claimant, identify possible vehicles, and verify their residence. Once this information is obtained, you and your investigator have won half the battle.
I have been involved in cases where the private investigator posed as another patient in a waiting room in order to strike up a conversation with my client, hoping to capture a statement against interest on his hidden microphone.
I regularly receive DVDs containing hours of surveillance video – in one such case, my client was seen lifting boxes into the back of his SUV.
One of my colleagues tells the story of viewing videotape of his client, a heavy-set, middle aged woman with documented lumbar disc issues cheering on her grandson at a high school wrestling match. The woman was able to sit on aluminum bleachers and at times was able to jump up to shout encouragement to her grandson and his teammates. That she spent the next 10 days in bed did not, of course, make the videotape. But her case ended up settling for thousands less than it should have because of the damaging video evidence.
The point here is not to make you paranoid or to suggest that you stay in the house all day. I just want you to understand that even if you are having a good day, resist the urge to perform physical tasks that are likely to leave you in bed for the next two or three days. Live your life to the extent that you can comfortably but understand that there is a very good chance that an insurance company investigator may be following you, looking for an opportunity to videotape you.
Surveillance videotape is perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence that an insurance company can use to cut off benefits and/or lowball your settlement offer. Put yourself in the shoes of a judge or mediator who is viewing videotape of a person lifting, carrying and bending and think about how you would react to such a person's claim for disability benefits.
If you want to learn more about surveillance and how you can protect yourself, please call me – I can be reached at 770-351-0801.