Is workers’ comp allowed to conduct surveillance?

If you have a Vermont workers’ compensation claim and are currently missing work as a result, there is some chance the insurance company will hire a private investigator to conduct surveillance of your activities. There are a couple of scenarios in which the insurance company is most likely to order surveillance, but they could do it for any reason. First, they might hire a private investigator if they don’t believe you’re as injured as you say you are. Second, they might hire a private investigator simply because you’ve been out of work for a very long time.

By conducting surveillance, the insurance company is hoping to catch you doing something that’s inconsistent with your reported injury. They might hire a person to park across from your house, looking for you to carry a heavy object that you shouldn’t be lifting. They might be in the woods nearby, or waiting in the parking lot before your next medical appointment. They could follow you on a walk, or through the grocery store, or to your child’s sporting event. Technically, they are allowed to conduct this type of surveillance as long as they’re not trespassing or breaking other laws.

If you notice someone following you or recording you, you have every right to approach them or ask them to stop. Keep in mind, however, that the best way to avoid messing up your Vermont workers’ comp claim is to obey your doctor’s restrictions and not do anything outside your home that you wouldn’t want your doctor (or the insurance company’s doctor) to see. Don’t stack a cord of wood if you have trouble bending and carrying. Don’t ride a lawnmower for an hour if you say it hurts to sit for 20 minutes. Don’t pick up your child if you have a 10 pound lifting restriction. Obeying your doctor’s restrictions and only doing what you’ve told them you can do will prevent the insurance company obtaining anything helpful from their surveillance.