The SPY Who Suspended Your Benefits

It is well known that workers compensation and liability insurance carriers take drastic measures to mitigate claims costs. Often times, their mitigation strategy will come in the form of an Independent Medical Examination (IME) where an insurance carriers hired-gun doctor will render an expert opinion as to causality of an injured workers medical condition in an attempt to suspend benefits or reduce damages. Under certain circumstances, however, Insurance companies will employ more invasive measures.

Insurance carriers have been utilizing video surveillance for quite some time. I know you are asking yourself if this is legal. Yes, it is legal. The second question you might ask yourself is whether the insurance carrier will actually waste their time and resources watching you. Once again, the answer is yes, they will.

Carriers justify this practice by making the public believe in the carriers indignation to prevent fraud, but this is nothing more than a disguise of the carriers true intentions: to preserve its bottom line. In other words, they are looking to find a way out of paying benefits on legitimate claims. When the carrier places you under surveillance, they will follow you for several days and even weeks at a time. They will follow you to your doctors appointment, to the grocery store and even to your daughters wedding. They are looking to catch you at the most inopportune time. Here are examples of surveillance that caught injured workers at an inconvenient time:

  • A carpenter recovering from a rotator-cuff tear is filmed helping his wife carry groceries in the house
  • A school teacher, who is in rehabilitation for an L5-S1 fusion, is seen picking her crying son up from the ground and taking him into her physical therapy facility.
  • A laborer recovering from neck surgery is filmed in his garage, that was open, as he helps his son reach for an overhead object. At a later hearing, it was revealed that he was helping his son reach material that he would use in a science-fair project.
  • An electrical worker recovering from a total-hip replacement is filmed slow dancing with her granddaughter during said granddaughters wedding (yes, they will even follow you into a wedding).

The moral of the story is to beware of the fact that insurance carriers have eyes, and these eyes are looking to catch you when the realities of life get in the way. Generally speaking, you should follow your doctors orders as thoroughly as possible. You should also err on the side caution before engaging in an activity that could be interpreted as a violation of your work restriction.

Here are some tips for dealing with surveillance:

  • Keep your eyes open for Vans or vehicles not belonging your neighbors that are parked on your street for several days at a time
  • When Driving, always look in rear-view for vehicles that are following you
  • Do not hesitate to call the police if you see a strange vehicle parked near your house, if you notice a vehicle following you or if you think someone is trespassing on your property
  • When attending a social function that will be filmed: a wedding, Bat or Bar Mitzvah, sweet sixteen or quincienera; you must refrain from performing any act that violatesor even appears to violate your doctors orders. Additionally, if you are the host, verify the identity of any person filming at your event.

If you have questions regarding workers compensation in Illinois, contact the Chicago workers compensation lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers. Call 1-312-464-1234 or click here to access our Free Case Evaluation form 24/7.