If you have been hurt in a workplace accident and filed a workers’ compensation claim, you may begin to suspect that you are being watched as you go about your daily activities. Unfortunately, this may not just be your imagination. Insurance companies are eager to deny workers’ compensation claims or reduce the amount that they owe. They can justify this by producing evidence that suggests that your injuries may not be as serious as you claim.
To gather this information, the insurance company may hire a private investigator to conduct surveillance of your activities. This surveillance can take one of two forms: physical surveillance or electronic surveillance.
Physical surveillance involves following you as you go about your daily activities, observing your actions and capturing photos or videos that may be taken out of context and used against you in court. As long as these surveillance activities are confined to observing you when you are out in public, which includes standing in your own front yard where you are visible to bystanders, it is legal to conduct these types of surveillance activities. It is also legal for the investigator to knock on the doors of your neighbors and ask them questions about you.
However, the law does place some legal limits on physical surveillance. The laws against trespassing apply to private investigators, which means they cannot peek inside your windows or gain access to your home under false pretenses. Furthermore, you have a right to feel safe in your own home and within your community. This means that if you feel that your safety may be compromised due to surveillance, you have the right to call the police for help.
Electronic surveillance involves looking at what you post online. It is much easier than physical surveillance in that it isn’t necessary to follow your physical movements and the law presumes that everything that you post publicly online is fair game.
The most foolproof way to guard your online information is to delete or disable all of your social media accounts for the duration of the workers’ comp case. However, if that is not feasible, you should up your privacy settings on all your accounts and only grant “friend” status to people that you know and trust.
If you have any reason to believe that a private investigator working for an insurance company has violated your rights, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer, like a workers’ compensation lawyer in Wytheville, VA, right away. An attorney can explain exactly which surveillance activities are legal and which are not.
Thanks to The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into how you might be surveilled during a workers’ compensation investigation.