The short answer is, yes. This is a common practice.
Private Investigators and What They Do
Sometimes, the insurance company will send a private investigator to monitor you and your activity level, as well as what activities you are taking part in during your free time. Your worker’s compensation insurance company relies on the answers that you give them about your activity level, as well as upon the information that they receive from your doctor. If the claim sounds fraudulent, or as though you might be misrepresenting the situation, or if it simply seems to be lasting too long, or if your claim is becoming extremely expensive for the insurance company, the insurance company will investigate.
Remember, your worker’s compensation insurance carrier has dealt with hundreds of thousands of claims before, and there are certain red flags that experience has taught them to look out for, causing them to look more closely at your claim. If it turns out that you lied to the insurance company about your level of activity, the company has a strong case for discontinuing your benefits.
Your Physical Activity Level Matters
On top of that, they will want to be certain that your general physical activity level and capabilities match what they’ve been told: what you’ve reported to them, and what your doctors have reported to them. If you tell them you have a terrible shoulder injury and cannot work because of it, but they get video of you casually playing a round of golf, it will not go well for you. Even highly experienced attorneys like those as the Injured Workers’ Law Firm would have a very difficult time getting you back “on comp” to continue receiving your worker’s compensation benefits once those pictures have been taken.
Your Social Media Matters
The “spying” will also extend to looking at any social media you may have. Insurance companies love to investigate injured workers social media posts to find some evidence that the injured worker is capable of, or is doing, more than the injured worker is telling the insurance company and the doctors.
While our advice is actually not to do anything more than what the doctor tells you to do, we also recommend that you stay off social media, or, at least stop posting personal information about your life and your work injury. If you have already posted things, don’t delete anything, just stop posting going forward.
How an Attorney Can Help You
This doesn’t mean that you should walk around feeling paranoid about someone following you or taking pictures of you if you have a workers’ compensation claim. Just be honest about your abilities and activities to everyone. Obviously there are times when people have to do what they have to do and power through a brief, painful activity despite their injury (think of a mom picking up her child who was about to fall despite her own back injury), but these are occasional moments that can be explained, not an entire day’s worth of activity.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.