Employees who are hurt while they are working on the job face many hurdles when attempting to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can be incredibly difficult and many workers will be forced to use the assistance of an attorney to fight against challenges from their employers, including extensive court battles and the possibility of probing inquiries into their medical history.
While dealing with these legal challenges, workers must also deal with the stress of their injuries, including impact to their salaries, expensive medical bills, and the anxiety of not knowing when they might return to work. Together, all of these challenges can place significant strain on workers. Recently, employers have also begun to add additional concerns for workers – the possibility of surveillance during a workers’ compensation case.
Workers’ Compensation and Surveillance in Cherry Hill
As more and more workers’ compensation insurance companies look for ways to challenge workers’ claims for workers’ compensation coverage, they are increasingly turning to surveillance in an effort to discredit workers during legal proceedings or after they receive benefits. Specifically, after workers claim certain injuries, insurance companies are using surveillance tactics to monitor those workers and confirm whether they are (or are not) actually injured.
Workers’ compensation surveillance can take many forms. With the ever-increasing array of technology available to companies, many engage in video surveillance to evaluate workers or use remote technologies to keep tabs on how they are doing.
Alternatively, some choose to use private investigators to monitor workers and determine whether they are abiding by doctor’s requirements or performing activities that they have alleged they are unable to do.
While this may sound extreme, surveillance techniques are used by insurance companies in order to “catch workers in the act” and therefore cut down on claims that must be paid to workers after their injuries.
What’s the Point of Surveillance?
Surveillance may seem like an extreme measure to undertake just to try to catch an employee in the act of doing something that contradicts their workers’ compensation claim. It is hard to imagine that insurance companies want to spend their time and money following around employees on the off-chance they may not have a valid claim.
In reality, however, insurance companies do not need to find “smoking gun” evidence in order to disprove a workers’ compensation claim or reduce the amount of benefits that an employee might receive. Instead, evidence of simple day to day activities can be more than enough.
During a workers’ compensation proceeding, an employee must show that he or she has suffered an injury that makes it difficult to perform daily tasks. This might mean a back injury that prevents an employee from lifting boxes, or a repetitive stress injury that prevents the employee from operating a computer.
One way for insurance companies to defend against such claims is to show that employees are exaggerating the extent of their injuries. This can be done by showing that employees are engaging in activities that they shouldn’t be able to do if they are truly as injured as they suggest that they are. For example, if you have alleged you are suffering a serious back injury but are seen carrying your kids, this could be used to undermine your credibility in a workers’ compensation proceeding.
Workers should be aware that surveillance by insurance companies raises important issues for your privacy rights. While it is perfectly acceptable for an individual to photograph or videotape you while you are out in public and do not have “a reasonable expectation of privacy,” you do have a right to privacy in your own home. An individual may not observe you or otherwise intrude upon your privacy in such spaces.
New Jersey Attorneys Helping You Protect Yourself from Surveillance
If you are involved in a contentious workers’ compensation case or are dealing with a claim that is disputed by your employer’s insurance company, it is important to acknowledge the possibility of surveillance in your case.
It is important that workers’ compensation applicants acknowledge the limitations imposed by their physicians, and seek to abide by those limitations for the purposes of their claim. Attempting to do too much, too quickly, may not only have negative impacts on your health, but may also be used against you during your workers’ compensation process.
If you are concerned about the prospect of surveillance in and around your New Jersey home and have questions that you would like answered, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo are available to help. The law firm has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. Petro Cohen received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. For the past nine years, Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo. has been ranked in the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally for Workers’ Compensation Law. Firms included on the “Best Law Firms” list published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.
In addition to the firm’s stellar reputation, the department head, Frank Petro, is respected locally, regionally, and nationally as a leading attorney in this specialized field. He has been recognized as an outstanding attorney by Best Lawyers® for 25 consecutive years and by Super Lawyers® for 15 consecutive years. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, Avvo®, the highest achievable rating.
Along with Stephen M. Matarazzo, Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Steven Lubcher, and Daniel Rosenthal, the New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey. This experience and winning track record means that you are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work for you.
For your convenience, Petro Cohen has offices in Cherry Hill, Hamilton, Northfield, and Cape May Court House, NJ. For more information, contact us online or at (888) 675-7607.