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Some Insurance Companies Employ Private Investigators to Find Evidence Against Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

private investigatorIf you have a workers’ compensation claim and your gut is telling you that someone may be following you….your gut may be correct. Many insurance companies employ private investigators to find evidence that a claimant is healthy enough to return to work or that a claimant is earning income while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. However, with the increased use of social media, insurance companies may not need to physically follow a claimant in order to discover damaging information.

PIs Troll Social Media

With the increased use of social media, claimant’s need to be aware that what they post on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. may potentially damage their workers’ compensation claim. In some cases, insurers are asking for the passwords to their claimants’ private Facebook accounts. Although this seems like an obvious privacy violation, in 2010, the New York Supreme Court dealt with this exact issue.

Romano v. Steelcase, Inc.

The employer served the claimant with a notice for discovery requesting full access to current and deleted records on her Facebook and MySpace pages. Romano v. Steelcase Inc., 30 Misc. 3d 426, 907 N.Y.S.2d 650 (Sup. Ct. 2010). The claimant refused to give the authorizations, and the employer responded by filing a Motion to Compel with the Court. The employer supported their Motion with the claimant’s public content, which contained photos of the claimant smiling happily outside her home despite her claim of being confined to her house and bed. The claimant argued that the request and Motion violated her privacy rights.

The judge however disagreed that turning over the records requested was a violation of the claimant’s privacy rights. In his ruling in favor of the employer, he stated that the discovery request was valid “with respect to materials that may be relevant both to the issue of damages and the extent of a Plaintiff’s injury.” The judge also stated that it was “reasonable to infer from the limited postings on Plaintiff’s public Facebook and MySpace profile pages that her private pages may contain materials and information that are relevant to her claims or that may lead to the disclosure of admissible evidence.”

Workers’ Compensation Claim Tips to Keep in Mind…

  • Social Media – With social media, you have control of your privacy settings. Make sure you use these privacy settings on all of your social media accounts so only friends, family and people you choose can see your posted content. Also, only friend people you know on a personal level and don’t post pictures and statuses that you aren’t comfortable with the entire world seeing.
  • Private Property – Private Investigators can legally film you; however, they are not supposed to go onto private property.
  • PIs Must Speak with Counsel – If you are represented by counsel, a private investigator cannot ethically talk to you.
  • Report/Video Rights – The investigators report or video cannot be sent to a doctor without your consent. Although this is the law, many insurance companies routinely break the law. The investigators report may skew the facts or be a flat out lie. We have seen a case where a private investigator filmed a mother picking her child up when exiting a vehicle. While picking your child up from their car seat is a necessity in life, in this case the claimant had a lifting restriction of 10 pounds. Based on the video footage alone, the insurance company cut off all of the claimant’s workers’ compensation benefits. The insurance company also sent the video footage to the claimant’s doctor who lifted all of the claimant’s restrictions.

If you feel uncomfortable with the amount or type of information being requested by your employer or their insurer, consult a Northern Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Attorney. 

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation