Surveillance

On more than one occasion I have had a version of the following inquiry by a client. “A guy has been parked outside my driveway for the last two days, and I swear I saw him pointing a video camera at me. What should I do?”

The short answer is “nothing”. If you are doing what your doctor told you to do and not doing anything he told you not to do, any surveillance video will only reinforce that you are complying with doctor’s orders. The vast majority of surveillance tapes that I have reviewed over the years were usually more helpful to the claimant than to the insurance company. Typically, it shows my client hobbling down the street in a way that is consistent with the injuries that he or she has alleged. When the lawyer on the other side of the table attempts to argue that the limp depicted in the video is not as severe as the one he is now claiming in front of the commissioner, or that he walks well enough to work full-time, that argument is generally a loser.

Sometimes the carrier will authorize the surveillance tape in an effort to catch the claimant engaging in some type of activity that is inconsistent with the restrictions that the treating doctor has placed upon him. When this happens, counsel will sometimes ask the treating physician to review the surveillance tape and to ask whether such activities by the claimant are inconsistent with the treating physician’s opinion that the claimant has no work capacity, for example. This can be effective in altering the treating physician’s opinion as to work capacity if, in fact, the claimant can play a game of hockey, but claims that he cannot work as a machinist.

Bottom line: assume that someone will be videotaping your actions, and as long as your activities are consistent with the medical restrictions, you will have nothing to worry about.

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