Last Updated: 2/9/2023
When there are red flags in a workers’ comp claim, it’s not uncommon for an employer or insurer to use video surveillance to monitor the employee to evaluate his or her condition. If the surveillance shows inconsistencies with the injuries and disabilities listed in the claim, the insurer may use it as justification for denying the claim.
Reasons Insurers May Use Video Surveillance in Workers’ Comp Cases
The video can show the worker performing tasks that contradict the injury or limitations the worker is claiming like heavy lifting after a back injury, for example.
Employers can become suspicious for numerous reasons. One example is when the employee was injured in a workplace accident that no one else witnessed. Or the notice of injury wasn’t filed in a timely manner. In Iowa, an injured employee has 90 days from when the injury was known (or should have been known) to submit the notice to the employer.
Another reason an insurer may use video surveillance is when the notice of injury is inconsistent with claims the worker makes later at the doctor’s office. An insurer may also utilize video surveillance to monitor a worker who does not adhere to physical restrictions placed on him or her.
The injuries may be real and the restrictions necessary, but failing to follow doctor’s orders could damage what was a legitimate case. And in some cases, insurers may simply use video surveillance to catch a worker doing something that, out of context, would appear to contradict his or her claim of injury.
How Video Evidence Can Impact the Outcome of a Workers’ Comp Claim
This type of evidence can destroy a workers’ comp claim when there are contradictions between injuries and limitations the worker is claiming and what the video shows.
For instance, an insurer might edit a video to make it appear the worker is engaging in strenuous activity, when in fact the activity is not strenuous at all. Or it’s possible that the video obtained is from one of the employee’s social media accounts (such as Facebook). This poses a danger because information culled from social media sites can easily be chronologically incorrect.
As previously mentioned, what might have been a valid claim could be minimized by failure to follow doctor’s instructions like playing tag with your kids if the doctor tells you to stay off your feet as much as you can.
Even if there’s an explanation for what was captured on video, there can be numerous hurdles to overcome. The video might affect the impairment rating issued to you by the doctor, for example, or an insurer may use it to outright deny your claim. Because of the impact, it can have on a case, it’s important to secure legal counsel if there are any questions or concerns raised surrounding video evidence.
An attorney might also be helpful in preparing an injured worker for a case, especially if the injuries are significant. For instance, the attorney may explain ways to protect a worker’s rights like turning off social media accounts, especially if there are pictures or videos that show the worker engaging in strenuous activities.