What not to do while out of work due to an injury
You were injured on the job. You reported your injury, sought medical attention, and consulted with a workers' compensation attorney who helped you obtain benefits while you were unable to work. Now what?
If you are currently out of work due to an injury or are in the process of pursuing a workers' compensation claim, it's important to understand that the battle doesn't end once you begin receiving benefits. The insurance companies responsible for issuing these benefits in the state of Mississippi are very aggressive and will stop at nothing to reduce their costs.
If they can find any evidence that you're not disabled, they'll leverage it to downplay your claim or cut off your benefits altogether. That's why you should understand what to expect when collecting workers' compensation benefits and always provide honest information regarding your limitations. Here's why.
How do insurance companies investigate workers' compensation claims?
One method the insurance companies often employ is hiring a private investigator or investigative firm to gather evidence against you.
This is done by having a field investigator conduct street surveillance and obtain video documentation of your activities. In addition, an investigator may probe your neighbors, relatives, friends, and any other associates to gather clues regarding your level of activity. They want to know what you do in your spare time and if you are currently working.
If an investigator is surveilling you, your daily activities and hobbies can get you in trouble, and it only takes one instance captured on camera to hurt your case. These activities may include:
- Exercising or attending a gym (for any other reason than physical therapy)
- Playing recreational sports
- Carrying groceries
- Lifting your children
- Doing yardwork
- Doing side work (either self-employed or for another company)
How are investigations conducted?
A field investigator could be parked in your neighborhood watching your every move. They could watch you come and go from your doctor's appointment and document your behavior before, during, and after the appointment. For example, if you attend your doctor's appointment while wearing a knee brace, but later decide to go grocery shopping without it, this can be used as evidence against you.
In addition, an investigator could knock on your neighbor's door (posing as someone else) and ask questions about you. These questions could relate to your schedule, places you frequent, and your current work status. Anything your neighbor tells an investigator isn't necessarily hard evidence, but could be leveraged when an investigator follows you and documents your activity.
Any activity that is documented on camera is admissible in court, as long as it occurs within public view. In addition, the investigator who conducted surveillance may appear in court to testify against you.
Why is it critical to listen to my attorney and doctor?
It's important to understand that workers' compensation fraud is a problem that often clogs the workers' compensation system in Mississippi. It makes it more difficult for injured workers' to obtain benefits.
Do some people fake work injuries? The answer is yes, but for those who don't, it's critical that you always listen to your doctor and abide by the conditions of your claim. For example, if your doctor says that you should refrain from any physical activity, that's exactly what you should do. If your doctor says not to lift more than 10 pounds, then don't attempt to push beyond your limit.
In some cases, workers' compensation recipients may underestimate the nature of their injury. They may become confident in their ability to perform yard work or carry bags of groceries. All physical activity should be avoided for two reasons:
- Your injury or condition could worsen
- Your activity could hurt your case
If you're unsure about what you should or shouldn't do during the scope of your workers' compensation case, always consult with your attorney. If you notice that someone has been inquiring about you or following you, never become confrontational. This can be used against you in court.
If you have any questions regarding your claim or benefits, don't hesitate to contact Tabor Law Firm, P.A.