In Illinois workers’ compensation cases, the employer’s insurance company might decide to keep an eye on you, and they might use various forms of surveillance to do this. It’s not uncommon in claims that are expensive for the insurance company, such as those involving serious or permanent injuries.
The insurance company, not your employer, is paying your benefits. If you’re getting checks because you can’t work and reimbursement for medical expenses, it’s coming from the insurance company. All of this costs them money. Their goal, in using surveillance, is to see if you are really as hurt as you say you are. They might have an investigator follow you around. They might watch you while you’re shopping, playing with your kids at the park or doing yard work.
Basically, they’re hoping to catch you doing something you said you couldn’t do, or something your doctor said you should not do. They will then use this information to deny or stop your benefits. Common times to use surveillance are right before surgery (they hope to avoid paying for it) or at the settlement stage of your case if your injury is permanent and you can’t return to your old job. This generally makes your claim more expensive and they want to make sure it’s legitimate.
Generally, it’s legal for them to do this because the surveillance is done out in public. There’s not really a way to stop it, but there are things you can do to make the surveillance useless to the insurance company. First and foremost, you should always be honest about your injury. If you are as hurt as you say you are, then that’s a great start. That said, be extra careful if you think you are being followed.
Even if you are being honest, you can potentially put your benefits at risk by being careless. Follow your doctor’s orders. If you have a family to take care of, we realize this can be hard to do. If you have a back injury and you are told not to lift anything that weighs more than five pounds, don’t carry heavy grocery bags or do yard work. It’s inconvenient, but it could hurt your claim.
The majority of surveillance videos that the insurance companies take end up being useless because the people they’re following are legitimately injured and act accordingly. Don’t give them a reason to single you out. If they see that you are being honest, they’ll stop the surveillance because that, too, costs them money.
If you are injured at work, you are entitled to medical coverage and payment for lost wages. This is the law in Illinois. But keep in mind that the insurance company is a business. They may seem harmless on the phone and actually appear helpful, but paying out benefits is something they want to avoid if possible. Don’t give them a reason to deny your benefits. You don’t have to hide in your house, but be smart. Don’t play golf or basketball on the weekend if you are injured.
If you have questions about your work injury or need help dealing with the insurance company, contact us. You can call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614, or fill out the form to the right. It’s free and confidential.