In both personal injury and Workers’ Compensation cases, video surveillance has become a common strategy for insurance carriers and defense lawyers. Millions of dollars are spent on private investigators whose job it is to attempt to secure video footage that will help the insurance company defend their position.
The purpose of hiring undercover investigators is to secure evidence that will demonstrate that the injured parties’ physical activities are inconsistent with their claimed restrictions and/or disability.
Investigators often begin by questioning neighbors or co-workers about the injured parties’ activity level. Almost always, the investigator will then attempt to determine whether or not the claimant is working for pay or performing extensive physical activities around their home. If the physical activities shown in the video tape is not consistent with the claimant’s complaints of pain or the physical restrictions that have been placed upon him or her by their physician the Workers ‘ Compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit may be in serious jeopardy.
However, if the video surveillance only shows very light or restrictive activities that are consistent with the attending physician’s limitations or restrictions, then the video tape is of little probative value.
In certain circumstances, the insurance carrier will provide copies of the video tape to their independent medical examiner that will review them and render a revised opinion regarding the claimant’s actual level of disability and restrictions.
In some instances where the activity depicted clearly demonstrates that the injured party is working when they have already claimed that they have not done any work or are unable to work, civil and criminal penalties may be levied. Section 114 of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law is the relevant section regarding fraud.