If I suffer a work related injury, is it legal for the worker’s compensation insurance carrier to obtain video surveillance of me?

Jack Davila

Not only is it legal for the worker’s compensation insurance carrier to obtain videotape surveillance of you, if you are injured on the job you should expect that it will.

An employee has to use common sense when he is off work recovering from a work-related injury. Videotape surveillance is perfectly legal and is being used much more frequently as an offensive tool to deny benefits in legitimate worker’s compensation cases.

In virtually every claim that the worker’s compensation insurance carrier perceives will involve prolonged and expensive medical treatment, or will involve substantial disability benefits, the insurance carrier will retain a private investigator. The investigator may be asked to perform surveillance around the clock, or on a random basis. The investigator may obtain videotape and photographs of the injured worker while at home, while out shopping, while visiting with friends and family, while attending weddings or other social events and even while traveling to and from medical appointments. If the investigator can capture the injured worker on videotape or still photographs performing any activities which are inconsistent with the reported injury, or inconsistent with the restrictions imposed by a treating physician, that evidence will be used to suspend or deny further benefits or to defeat further claims at hearing.

Employers are also aggressively making use of anti-fraud statutes, even in claims which appear entirely legitimate. For example, an employee may dislocate his elbow during course of employment and his doctor may limit him from performing certain movements with his injured arm while healing from the effects of the injury. The employee may then be captured on videotape performing touch-up painting on the exterior of his house. Although painting seemed to be consistent with doctor’s limitations, the employer may then threaten prosecution under the anti-fraud statutes.

In sum, you should use common sense when you are off of work recovering from a work-related injury. Always assume that you are being watched by a private investigator.