Spring Is In The Air…
And So Is Surveillance! Delaware Workers’ Compensation Benefits
By Heather A. Long, Esq.
Now that we are heading in to spring, the weather is getting warmer and the grass is getting greener. If you are like me, I love to go outside and play with my kids, plant flowers in the garden and enjoy some fresh air after being cooped up inside all winter long. Insurance companies are betting that injured workers will enjoy doing the same things, and so they hire detectives to conduct surveillance to be used against them later on down the road
Frequently, if you become injured on the job you will see some sort of modification to your work duties. Your doctor may, for example, restrict the hours you may work, restrict the type of work you may perform, or take you out of work completely until you’ve healed sufficiently. In all of those scenarios, the employer has an obligation to pay wage replacement benefits in accordance with Workers’ Compensation laws- and they’re usually not very happy about it. In order to attempt to have your benefits decreased, they will often conduct surveillance to be used against you to show that you are not as injured as you claim to be, and that your work restrictions should be lifted.
Normally, internet surveillance is conducted via some simple, inexpensive searches through websites such as a Google, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. (Try putting your own name into Google and see what comes up.) These websites offer investigators and insurance companies a glimpse into some very personal details of your life. So, when posting intimate details of your life and your activities online, beware that this can be viewed by anyone with a proper subpoena or court order- not just your friends and family. If you wouldn’t want it printed on the front page of the news, it’s probably best to leave it off the internet, at least while your workers’ compensation case is ongoing.
If you are out of work on total disability through workers’ compensation, and the insurance company believes that you can work, you are at an increased risk for having video surveillance performed. This is the old fashioned, yet still effective, version of surveillance. Essentially a private investigator will obtain video tape of you performing activities in your daily life, and then the insurance company and their attorney may use it against you in an attempt to curtail your disability benefits. This surveillance can range anywhere from footage of you shopping, driving, exercising, to anything else you do on a daily basis. All public places are fair game, however, the investigator may not remain on your property after you ask them to leave. They may contact your neighbors to ask about your wherabouts….. which would make anyone with a nosy neighbor get at least a little bit nervous.
While private investigator surveillance may be old fashioned, the technology they use is anything but. They could pass you on the street, in a store or in a restaurant and you’d never know that you were being videotaped. The video recorders can be as small as a wallet, and can be easily hidden and concealed. The best rule of thumb is to just follow your doctor’s orders with respect to the restrictions he places you on. This way, even if the insurance company does conduct surveillance on you, it will minimize any harmful effect on your case and your benefits.
Those two examples are just some of the ways the insurance companies can conduct surveillance. If you were injured on the job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. A consultation with a lawyer who specializes in this area will be able to give you insight as to whether your particular claim for benefits is valid. All of the lawyers in my firm, including myself, offer consultations for work injuries. The consultations are free, and the insight into your claim could be invaluable to your future health and benefits.
Heather has been an attorney for over six years, and is currently practicing Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Law at Kimmel, Carter, Roman & Peltz, P.A. with offices in Newark and Wilmington. Heather worked her way through law school as a paralegal in a personal injury firm. After passing the bar exam, she spent several years working as a defense attorney, representing local, regional and national companies. With the knowledge gained about the inner-workings of these companies, she now represents injured workers and personal injury plaintiffs.
Heather is a graduate of Widener University School of Law, and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Prior to attending law school, she was licensed as a paramedic and spent time volunteering for her local ambulance corps. She is also active as a mock trial coach for Salesianum High School.
Heather is licensed to practice law in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, please call (302) 565-6132 or email her directly at HLong@kcrlaw.com.