Insurance companies have a vast number of resources at their disposal to defend against workers’ compensation cases. When an injured worker files a claim, the insurance company will use all kinds of tools, tactics, and tricks to find leverage that they will use as justification to not pay injured workers the compensation that they deserve. Below are three of the most common things the insurance company will try to use against you in your workers’ compensation claim.
If you file a workers’ compensation claim, it is virtually guaranteed that the insurance companies will conduct what is sometimes called a social media “sweep.” This means that the insurance company will look at all social media accounts associated with you, and possibly your family members. At Rohan Law, we always advise our clients to stay off social media as much as possible while they have an active workers’ compensation claim. Even if you think something you post on social media is innocent and would not have an impact on your case, chances are that the insurance companies will not view it that way. The simple solution is not to post on social media while your workers’ compensation claim is pending. Why would you want to give the insurance company any more advantages than they already have?
Insurance companies will often hire investigators to conduct surveillance on injured workers who have filed workers’ compensation claims. This could include an investigator filming you outside of your home or while you are out in public. The investigators are trained to do this in a discreet manner, and you will probably never even notice that you were being filmed. Insurance companies most often use surveillance on injured workers who have been taken out of work by their authorized treating physician or are on work restrictions. Their goal is to “catch” you doing something on video that is in excess of your restrictions. For example, you have a right shoulder injury and your workers’ compensation doctor says you should not lift anything with your right arm. One evening at home, you decide to take the trash out and carry the bag with your right arm. If the insurance company had an investigator set up outside of your home to film you, they would have a video of you doing something beyond the restrictions you were given by your doctor. They will then use that video to persuade your doctor to release you back to work, which sometimes includes suspending your workers’ compensation benefits. The best thing to do is to ensure you are never doing anything beyond the restrictions, even while at home.
Although you can have a workers’ compensation claim when your job causes you to aggravate a preexisting condition, the insurance companies will still try to use your medical history against you in your case. If you are hurt at work, the insurance company will often take the position that your injury was not due to your job and was instead caused by something else which happened before you started working for your employer. The insurance companies will investigate your medical history by obtaining medical records from doctors you have seen in the past. In order to avoid your medical history being used against you in your case, you should be completely honest about it. When you start working for a company, sometimes you will be asked to fill out forms about your medical history. You should be honest and disclose any preexisting conditions you have while filling out those forms. This is because there are situations under Georgia law in which your workers’ compensation case can be denied if you injure yourself and aggravate a preexisting condition that you failed to disclose to your employer. For example, let’s say you had surgery on your right knee in 2020 due to an injury and, as a result of that injury, you have arthritis in the knee. You apply to work for a company in 2023, and this company has you fill out paperwork that asks you if you have ever had any prior injuries to your knees. If you say no and then injure your knee again at your new job, the insurance company will likely deny your case. Be honest with your employer about your medical history. You should also be honest with your attorney about your medical history to avoid any unnecessary surprises. While we can fight to prevent insurance companies from using your medical history against you, we can only do so if we know the full extent of your history.