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How Surveillance Impacts a Workers’ Compensation Claim

CCTV or surveillance operating in office

If you were injured on the job in California, you are generally entitled to coverage from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Employers or insurance companies may try to avoid paying out on workers’ compensation claims by either claiming that an injury occurred outside of the workplace, that the employee is disqualified for coverage for some reason (for example, if they were intoxicated at the time of the accident), or that the employee is exaggerating the severity of the injury. Employers may try to use video surveillance obtained at the workplace or outside to disprove a workers’ compensation claim. In turn, our clients often ask if they should seek surveillance footage to boost their claims.

Read on for a discussion of how surveillance impacts a workers’ compensation claim in California. Discuss your claim with a dedicated Southern California workers’ compensation attorney if you need help with a workers’ compensation matter on behalf of yourself or a deceased family member.

Types of Surveillance Workers’ Comp Investigators Use

Video surveillance may be available from a few different sources, and the value of each source is different. Surveillance that may arise in a workers’ comp case could include:

● Security camera footage at the workplace. Many workplaces have closed-circuit video surveillance to deter theft or ensure safety. These cameras may record a workplace accident.
● Phone cameras. Employees, supervisors, coworkers, and even customers may have recorded a workplace accident or the aftermath.
● Private investigator cameras. Employers or insurance companies might hire private investigators to follow an injured worker to see if they are lying about the extent of their injuries. For example, they may try to catch an injured worker playing a sport or generally being more agile and mobile than they claimed.

How Workers’ Comp Insurance Uses of Surveillance

Surveillance footage can be extremely useful in proving your claim. If security camera footage at the workplace captured your accident, you could use it to definitively prove that your injury occurred at work. The same can be said for cell phone footage, although it may be harder to verify the time and place a recording took place.

Cameras can also be used to show unsafe or poor working conditions that contributed to an injury, if they remain ongoing at a workplace. The timestamp available on video camera footage also puts an exact time and place on your accident, which is useful evidence to avoid a claim denial based on failing to report a claim in a timely manner.

Video surveillance could also be used against you. Private investigators can use footage of an injured worker performing daily activities in public to show that they are not as seriously injured or disabled as they claimed, or to show that an injured worker is not using a prescribed medical device such as a cane or neck brace. This could limit your total claim or lead to a rejection of your coverage.

Video surveillance at work may also show that the injured worker was intoxicated or deliberately caused an accident, which could cause their claim to be denied. The insurance company can use video surveillance with impunity, and courts may admit most types of footage in court so long as it is authenticated.

Workers’ Compensation Tactics Used by Insurance Companies

  • Surveillance — insurance companies use surveillance to obtain proof that they don’t need to pay you for your workers’ comp claim. First, they will look at the video surveillance provided by your employer. If necessary, they may hire a private investigator to gain evidence that your injury wasn’t serious.
  • Delay and deny — sometimes, workers’ comp insurance companies will delay payments as long as possible; this is in hopes of the injured worker settling for a smaller amount. Insurance companies may also accept the responsibility for your injury, but down the road, they will try to reduce or remove your benefits.

Handling Workers’ Comp Surveillance

You can’t hinder the investigation of a workers’ comp investigator, but you can make decisions that will help your case:

  • Follow doctor’s orders — listen to your doctor and comply with the restrictions they place on you. If an insurance investigator finds you doing something outside of your doctor’s restrictions, you may lose your workers’ comp benefits.
  • Don’t interact with the investigator — if you believe that a workers’ comp investigator is following you, don’t interact with them or confront them. They are doing their job and trying to intimidate them only gives them more evidence to try and deny your claims.
  • Hire a lawyer — taking on a workers’ comp insurance company by yourself doesn’t provide you with a fair fight. Surveillance is only one tactic they use to deny your claim, and having an experienced workers’ comp attorney on your side can significantly increase your odds of a successful outcome.


If you have a claim for workers’ compensation and want to ensure you get the maximum available coverage, call Invictus Law today at 949-287-5711, and speak with a knowledgeable California workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your claims.

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