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Let's Go To The Videotape in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Businesswoman watching a video

When I was growing up, I watched Sportscaster Warner Wolf. During his segments he would always yell “LET’S GO TO THE VIDEO TAPE,” when describing a critical play during a game.

When I discuss a case with clients, I always tell them they must understand that investigative videographers are everywhere. And a short video can change the complexion of their case overnight. There are certain rules that apply when an insurance company wants to use a video to discredit your claim.

  1. There is no requirement that notice be given to anyone when an investigative videographer is going to be used.
  2. That recording DOES NOT need to be produced to you or your lawyer unless certain criteria are met. Here are the criteria:
    1. The video is sent to other parties.
    2. The video is sent to doctors who review it and give their opinion on the video.

Once either of the two above criteria are met then you are entitled to get a copy of the video.

If they are not, the Insurance Company can keep the video until after you testify before a Compensation Judge. This is problematic because often clients are vulnerable while giving testimony under oath when they have no idea what is on the video.

The best and only way to prevent the above, in my opinion, is the following actions that almost always work.

  1. Be aware of your circumstances. If you think someone is following you or you notice unfamiliar vehicles parked around your house, it is almost always some type of investigator.
  2. You need to take ACTION.
    1. Get the license plate without their knowledge.
    2. Report the suspicious conduct to your local police.
    3. Follow up with the police to see what they have learned.
    4. Notify your attorney of any suspicious activity.

Most times, once the police are involved the investigation stops. But this does not mean it will not start again.

Many cases become problematic because of videotape. Doing activities on a day you feel good can become the subject of a whole evidentiary hearing in Court. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.

Do not let insurance companies turn your legitimate, serious injury claim into an allegation of exaggeration and fraud. This is their game plan. Always be aware of your circumstances. So many times after we send out a settlement demand, we get a call or correspondence that says “we have your client on video so our offer is ____.” This offer is almost always a small lump sum settlement that closes the case forever. This is after major injuries that necessitated spinal surgery, joint replacement, and other serious treatment.

When I have to discuss the video with my clients, I am always shocked to hear them tell me “I always wondered what that car parked across the street from my house was doing.” As an injured worker you must be vigilant. You must be aware that once you are injured everything you do is subject to question, suspicion, and review. Remember: the insurance company is not on your side.

Navigating a workers’ compensationcase can be challenging. At Levinson Axelrod, P.A. we have the experience, specially trained staff, and resources to help. Our attorneys offer FREE consultations and serve clients across New Jersey. Call (732) 440-3089 or contact us online to discuss your case.

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