The way to get your employer to release video footage of your accident is fairly straightforward: you ask your attorney to file a formal discovery request with the employer. According to Iowa Code §85.27, the employer must release the footage upon request.
What the Law Says About Video Footage in the Workplace
In October of 2012, the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner made some huge decisions on the issue of the disclosure of surveillance materials. Previously, employers could make video footage available after a claimant gave his or her deposition. Not so anymore.
Iowa §85.27(2) is strikingly clear: “Any employee, employer or insurance carrier making or defending a claim for benefits agrees to the release of all information to which the employee, employer, or carrier has access concerning the employee's physical or mental condition relative to the claim and further waives any privilege for the release of the information.”
“All” information includes any surveillance videos the employer may have taken. If you think your accident was caught on video, make sure to bring this up to your attorney so he or she can request or subpoena it.
A Summary of the Legalities Surrounding Requesting Video
The Commissioner decided the following regarding videos in workers’ compensation cases:
- Employers are required to produce surveillance materials in response to discovery requests.
- Employers cannot withhold materials until after the worker’s deposition.
- Surveillance materials are to be produced upon request. If the employee makes a request under §85.27, the employer must produce the materials within 20 days after filing an answer.
- The employer has the right to ask the Commissioner for an order to prevent discovery and release of the video, if it’s irrelevant.
Using Video and Other Resources to Prove Your Claim
If your accident was captured on video, it can serve as excellent evidence to prove your workers’ compensation claim. It’s still important to try to round up any other evidence you can that might support your case.
Some of the evidence that might be fruitful includes:
- your employment history (demonstrate your work ethic and previous employability);
- witness testimonies from co-workers;
- your medical records (to show lack of preexisting conditions);
- expert testimonies from field experts such as accident recreation specialists;
- any Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations; and
- photos of workplace hazards.
Warning: It’s a Two-Way Street
Just as employees can use video to support their case, so can employers. They may use surveillance videos to discredit your claim. For instance, if the employer takes video of you walking to and from your car with relative ease, it could attempt to say you aren’t as injured as you’re claiming.
Unfortunately, a lot of such videos are taken out of context and somewhat bogus. In the example above, for instance, you could have been able to walk only after taking pain medication. These videos don’t always show the entire story.
If your injury is legitimate, losing your case because of misconstrued evidence would be a travesty. Your attorney will review all videos and represent the facts clearly to the courts so that your claim isn’t wrongly rejected.
Consulting a Workers’ Comp Attorney
The office of Walker, Billingsley & Bair, which serves Des Moines and surrounding areas, regularly handles workers’ comp cases, and our attorneys know how to compile necessary evidence to satisfy claims. Contact us at (888) 435-9886 today for a free consultation.