As I indicated earlier, there is a three-part series published by Honolulu Civil Beat, and this is the third. Again, although this is Hawaii, not Oregon, there are many similarities.
Our Supreme Court in the mid-80s that the act of signing the Form 801 (Oregon’s initial claim form) waives the patient/physician privilege. The courts have long held that in pursuing insurance benefits, workers give up their right to privacy when they file and pursue the claim. Investigators cannot trespass on the worker’s private property, but they can film them and the insurance company is allowed to rely on the films to process the claims.
There is some good advice in the article, specifically, do not discuss your workers’ compensation claim or your activities on Facebook. If an insurance company becomes aware of discussions on public media that are relevant to the workers’ compensation claim, they are entitled to get those as discovery and if you take them down, you are guilty of what lawyers call spoliation of evidence. It is illegal to destroy potential evidence, and the evidence that is destroyed will be presumed that you destroyed it because it would hurt your case.
Again, it is a long read but very informative.
Spying On Injured Workers Often Adds To Their Pain
Surveillance is accepted practice in workers’ comp cases. It can lead to a cutoff of benefits, but things are not always as they appear.
Ken Weir claimed he had seriously injured his neck, back, shoulder and knee when he stepped into two open drains at work and twisted awkwardly. So how was he able to help his uncle carry a washing machine?
That’s what his workers’ comp insurer wanted to know after it paid private investigators to follow him and take video on 18 days over more than a year.
The investigators taped Weir as he swept a driveway, cut grass with a weed whacker, bundled branches and put them into a truck bed, and tossed a wooden pallet into a bin at the dump. Then cameras caught him hoisting one end of that washing machine.
A state labor hearing officer rendered a verdict: the videos showed Weir had committed fraud. His workers’ comp benefits were cut off and he was fined $10,000.
But as sometimes happens when insurance investigators follow injured workers, things were not quite as they appeared.
A CIVIL BEAT INVESTIGATION
BY JOHN HILL