If you’ve been restricted from work or limited in your work because of a job-related injury, it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders. This is especially important if you are claiming benefits for your work injury because of your medical limitations.
There are basically two types of workers that work beyond their restrictions: those that are trying to do too much and not allowing their bodies to heal properly, and those that are not being truthful about their injuries and what they’re really capable of doing.
Insurance companies will frequently try to find out whether a worker claiming benefits is really telling the truth about his or her injuries. They may set up surveillance video in order to observe and record workers in their everyday lives, to see what they are really capable of. If they find that you’re lifting what you’ve been restricted from lifting, for example, they’re not going to want to continue paying benefits for you to not work at a job where you need to lift.
Surveillance videotapes are not necessarily something to be afraid of or concerned about. They shouldn’t pose a problem for you, as long as you follow a few important principles:
1. Be honest and open about your physical limitations. Lying isn’t acceptable under any circumstance. When it’s done to exaggerate a workers’ compensation injury, it can only end up hurting your case and getting you into trouble.
If you tell your doctor you can’t do something physically, and you’re caught on surveillance doing something more strenuous, you lose all credibility and likely lose you case. Then any real injury you may have will not get treated as it should. The penalties for lying and fraud can be even more severe as well.
2. Don’t try to take on more than you should or are allowed to do. If your doctor places restrictions on your activity, follow those restrictions. First, if you don’t, you could set back or permanently damage your body while it’s trying to heal. Second, if you make your injury worse or hurt yourself trying to compensate for your limitations, then you could risk losing your benefits.
But another result of trying to do activities beyond your limitations is that you could harm your case permanently if you are seen on surveillance video. Even where you are just trying to push through the pain and do something quickly, you could be hurting yourself both physically and financially if that moment is captured on video.
It’s much better in the long-run to just ask for help or hire someone to do physical work that needs doing, and to put off activities that you shouldn’t do until your doctor lifts the restrictions. That one moment that the surveillance records you removing snow from your driveway when you’re not supposed to be bending or lifting, can cost you too much in the end, both for your recovery and your case.
3. Don’t be overly afraid of the prospect of the surveillance video. If you’re being honest, and listening to your doctor, you should be fine. And if there is something caught on tape that the insurance company is trying to spin against you, it can be explained or rebutted.
In a recent case in Illinois, a worker was cut off from benefits after he was recorded doing yard work. But when the video was fully examined, it showed that it really didn’t go against anything that he was actually claiming he couldn’t do. Looking at the video closely can show that just because you engaged in an activity that looks physical, you may have done it in a way that supports your claim for your injury.
Sometimes the video can seem to contradict what you’re claiming you can’t do, but even then you have an opportunity to explain what is really happening. Maybe you were really in a lot of pain when you were lifting or bending, or you had to rest every time you moved and the tape doesn’t show that.
You need to continue to live your life as best as you can after a work injury. You can’t hide in your home just because you are worried about a surveillance video making you look bad. Just be truthful and follow your doctor’s restrictions.
We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.