And this is a blog dedicated to Mississippi Workers' Compensation
Who is watching you?
While the unrelenting heat is no indicator, the summer is slowly winding down and school will be back in session in no time. Considering my children are in day care throughout the year, kids going back to school to me only means more traffic for my morning commute. However, I am sure many of you are excited to send your kids back to school and restore some order in your homes.
We are back from our summer vacation. My wife and I took our kids to Orange Beach for a few days, which was much needed. I also needed a vacation from the vacation. As most of you know, I have a 3 year old son (Sawyer) and a 2 year old daughter (Charlotte). Irish twins, as some say. Anyway, as a family growing up, we took our vacation in the winter as my dad was a farmer and his work was too busy for us to take a summer vacation each year. When I would go to the beach with friends, I would constantly see families together building sand castles and burying one another, all while the dads drank beer. At least that was what I thought was going on.
In reality, I discovered that it entails the dad lugging 75 pounds of gear to the beach, constantly smearing suntan lotion on the kids, chasing away jellyfish from the shore and making sure sand stays out of the eyes and/or mouths of the little ones. After less than three of hours of “enjoying” the beach, I could not get back to the house fast enough!
Of course, while there, we did take a few obligatory pics to show our kids one day years down the road how much “fun” we had!
Like watching children, I sometimes feel like we are constantly watching claimants to make sure they are not doing wrong. One of the ways we do so is through video surveillance. While costly, it can drastically reduce overall exposure if you are able to capture the claimant performing activities beyond their restrictions or alleged pain threshold.
When can this benefit you and how do you go about conducting video surveillance? First and foremost, we are typically looking to obtain video surveillance of an injured worker. However, not every case fits the needs for surveillance, nor does every claimant. If you believe your claimant is legitimately hurt and is doing their best to recover, then surveillance may not be needed in that case.
What are examples of when surveillance might be needed? The most typical scenario is when your claimant is treating, the doctor cannot find any objective basis for the complaints, and your claimant has exaggerated symptoms. If you fear there is malingering, surveillance may be warranted. Also, if you think the claimant may have a second job while you are paying TTD benefits, hiring an investigator to look into that could certainly prove to be beneficial.
Once you determine if you have a claim that warrants surveillance, you then need to find the right investigator to perform the work. Contact me if you need a referral. Your investigator will need to perform a social media search, among other techniques, to find out when the best time to conduct the surveillance would be. Generally speaking, people are more active on the weekends. However, if the claimant has an upcoming medical appointment, beginning surveillance that day when the claimant is “out and about” may be the right strategy as well.
Assuming you do obtain beneficial footage, you have several options. If the claim is litigated and close to a settlement, simply showing the claimant’s attorney the footage could result in a quick settlement. Your other options include deposing the treating provider. You can show the footage and ask how it impacts the restrictions, for instance. Also, submitting a copy of the footage to your chosen EME provider and requesting opinions is also a great option. However, no matter how you plan to use the footage, make 100% sure the footage captured is actually of the claimant. If that involves showing the claimant’s attorney or deposing the claimant first, make sure you can correctly identify the claimant.
All in all, surveillance can be a costly endeavor, and should only be used in the right situation, but if done correctly, you can save thousands of dollars on your case. If you have questions about a specific case and the need for surveillance, or need help locating a private investigator, please feel free to call.
8/1/2018 10:31:54 am
Jared, very good advice. Surveillance is still a very reliable option when it comes to troublesome or questionable claimants. Yes, it can be costly, but when used properly it is very cost effective.
Leave a Reply.
Attorney with Markow Walker in Ridgeland, MS