Help! My Workers’ Comp Insurance Company is Spying on Me

SpyingIt might seem creepy, but insurance companies will use any legal tactic at their disposal to ascertain whether you are really telling the truth about your claim, including spying on you. Do not expect insurance companies to provide money without employing a private investigator to survey your activities. Do not forget, insurance companies are also in the business of making money and ensuring their bottom line.

Contrary to popular thinking, there is a difference between private investigators doing their work within the confines of the law and stalking. Stalking is illegal and stalkers will often do things against the law, like peeping through a window or breaking and entering. PIs are licensed and will not do this as part of their job. Knowing some of the tactics insurance companies may use can mean ultimately mean the difference in deciding your claim.

Tactics That Workers’ Comp Private Investigators Use

Video and Photographic Surveillance

Insurance companies are in the business of proving you wrong. Feeling like you are being followed or that someone is videoing you can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety. Private investigators may follow you in their own vehicles while you are also on the road to obtain needed evidence. A usual indication of someone spying on you is seeing a familiar vehicle. Investigators could provide visual documentation of you through:

  • Your yard or driveway
  • Going to or from work, such as in the parking lot
  • Grocery stores or shopping malls
  • Public parks
  • Walking your dog outside your home

Claimants have sometimes been caught doing things like climbing on roofs, chopping firewood, and running marathon races, all of which could complicate your claim. Private investigators are not allowed to trespass on your property unless you give them permission.

Written Documentation

If for whatever reason the investigator is not able to videotape or photograph you, they may take written notes. Private investigators can eavesdrop on your conversations at a restaurant, for example.

Online Surveillance

Be careful what you post on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The internet is open-source and legally accessible. What private investigators are not allowed to do is hack into your account. For example, a photo or video of you on vacation performing an activity that would require use of an injured body part could be evidence provided to a judge or examining doctors. Social media posts without a visual component could still be used as evidence. Even posts where you are exuberantly smiling or look happy could be construed as evidence that you are not in pain.

Direct Contact

You may be called at home where the PI can pose as a different person for you to reveal damaging information. What a PI cannot do is pose as a police or law enforcement officer. In most states, private investigators are not allowed to carry a badge.

A PI can also interview you in-person under an alias. Be careful when speaking to those whom you do not know and opt not to. For example, you may accidentally reveal to a person posing as a commercial lawn mower that you do not need their services because you already mow the lawn yourself. Little do they know you are still in pain when you do this. It is better to err on the side of safety than on being loose with your words.

Interviews

An investigator will use other sources of information besides you to extract information that could complicate your claim or reduce your workers’ compensation benefits. They may opt to interview your friends, family, and neighbors who may not be knowledgeable of your situation or as careful as you are.

Audio Recording

An investigator may record audio of you that may be damaging to your claim. Federal and New Jersey law requires one-party consent to record a conversation. This means that the investigator may legally record you if they are part of the conversation. If not, then by law they cannot record you unless you or the other party give consent. [1]

What Can I Do to Preserve My Claim?

Follow Physician Instructions

When your doctor tells you to not to do something, it is usually for good reason. They may advise you not to lift objects above a certain weight, or to avoid certain activities. If you do not know how much weight you are lifting, it is better to avoid it.

Oftentimes we are in a hurry or are not thinking in the spur of the moment. Our instinct tells us to do something because we have always done it. It may now cause you pain and distress, but you fight through it, telling yourself that it is temporary, and it is a necessary task because no one else will do it. If you are injured, this is a wrong judgment, not only because it may cause you pain, but because it may hurt your claim if it is documented. Some of our clients at Livingston DiMarzio, LLP have been recorded taking out their garbage. This can be used against you because it could indicate or be perceived as exaggerating your injury.

Exercise Caution

It is important to be more mindful than you usually are while your case is pending. Whether it be posting on social media or performing an activity or task that requires adequate function of a body part you are claiming is injured, keep in mind how your actions could be used against you. You do not have to become paranoid, even though this may become a reaction.

Avoid Engaging with a Suspected Investigator

Talking with someone you suspect is investigating you should be avoided. You want to keep your cards close to your chest. It is easy to accidentally spill information that you did not intend to say, especially if the investigator seems welcoming enough to do so.

Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Taking on the insurance company and your employer by yourself can be intimidating. If you think you are being investigated, you will want to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer who can help guide you through the process and make sure the insurance company stays within their boundaries.

Get Your Free Case Consultation from the Workplace Lawyers

Our team of workplace lawyers at Livingston DiMarzio, LLP are experienced in countering any claims insurance companies make regarding the severity of your injury. We know the ins and outs of the process and are familiar with the right arguments to make to protect your claim. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at (973)-718-3769.

[1] “The Complete Guide to Laws Governing PI Work: From Audio Recording Consent to Concealed Weapons and Open Carry.” PrivateInvestigatorEDU.org, Https://Privateinvestigatoredu.org, privateinvestigatoredu.org/private-investigations-laws/.

WorkplaceLawyers.com is the website for the workers compensation attorneys firm of Livingston, DiMarzio LLP Our team of attorneys is made up of New Jersey Mesothelioma Lawyers, NJ Workers Comp Lawyers, Employment Lawyers and Certified New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Attorneys.

Livingston DiMarzio, LLP Facebook Page.   Livingston DiMarzio, LLP Twitter Profile.