Surveillance

Surveillance is a method railroads and insurance companies use to try to discredit injured workers' claims. They have a long history of hiring private detectives to photograph and video tape injured workers. Whether or not you have hired legal counsel, you should be aware that surveillance may be performed to "catch" you doing something inconsistent with the physical restrictions set by your doctor.

There are many situations where surveillance may be ordered. An injured worker's chances of being spied upon are greater if they do work on the side such as farming or landscaping, or if doctors have a difficult time finding objective evidence of injury but the person remains off work due to pain. Also, there are few secrets on the railroad: if you are a golfer or bowler, the railroad knows and will be watching.

How can you deal with the prospect of being put under surveillance? Most importantly, never exceed your doctors' restrictions. If your doctor gives you a 25 lb. lifting restriction, you must not lift a 40 lb. bag of water softener salt. However, doctors often will not give specific restrictions but will tell you to do what you can. In an attempt to continue to lead as normal a life as before the accident, the injured person tries physical activities around the yard or recreational activities. For example, some may continue to mow the lawn or fish. Of course this is perfectly acceptable in light of what the doctor has stated, but when captured on video tape it does not show how that nights sleep was difficult because of the pain from the activity. If you tried something but it caused problems, make sure you mention it to your doctor. Take breaks when needed.

Always be aware of your surroundings. You may notice an unusual van in your neighborhood. It could have cameras photographing you. With new technology, a surveillance team can be greater distances away from you. Simply because your house may be a long distance from a main road does not mean that your activities cannot be caught on videotape. Also do not believe that simply because you will be out of state on a trip, for example, that you are safe from the spying eyes of the railroad.

Over the years we have seen various tricks used by surveillance firms. For example, they may follow a person to a movie theater and while the injured worker is inside, their tire is punctured so that after the leaving the theater it must be changed. Many people will change the tire even with a bad back. Unfortunately, it is all recorded for the jury to view. If possible, you should call a service station and have a tow truck operator change the tire for you.

In summary, the best way to deal with this is to follow the advice of your doctors. You should always keep apprised of the vehicles around your home, or that may be following you.

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