Many injured workers have shared outright disturbing, unethical and downright creepy workcover surveillance tactics. Contained in this article is possibly the worst case involving unscrupulous, illegal and deceptive conduct engaged in by a workcover insurance company and/or its hired surveillance team.
Hidden, unknown traps used by workcover surveillance
While far from the only instance of a reported, deceptive workers comp insurance practice, and/or that of its hired surveillance team, the following outrageous and possibly the worst workcover surveillance tactic we have heard of, was recently submitted by an injured worker.
This workcover claim involved a worker who had sustained a severe injured her left shoulder in a work-related accident. In her witness statement, she claimed that she did not use her right arm when driving her car as it was just too unstable and very painful. She said she had purchased an automatic car (so she would not have to use the manual gears and the indicators were on the right side of the steering wheel.) and would limit her driving to very short trips (to the supermarket less than 2 km away),
The workcover insurance company hired a private investigator (or two) to conduct surveillance on this injured worker. The workcover surveillance involved following her while she was driving to and from the supermarket and taking video footage of her while she drove. Sure enough, she did not use her left arm and only drove to the local supermarket.
However, in a desperate attempt to try and prove the injured worker lied in her statement, to her treating doctors, to the IME doctors and in her serious injury application, the workcover insurance company or its hired surveillance team actually tampered with the video footage.
Either the workcover insurer or the hired Private Investigator played the surveillance footage of her driving the car through a TV monitor FACING A MIRROR, and re-recorded it.
The re-recorded reflected playback of her driving surveillance footage reversed the images of her activity; thereby making it appear as though the injured worker was using her left arm!
In other words, the workcover insurer or the hired PI (Private Investigator) took a second video whereby they filmed the reflected playback of the injured worker driving wherein the reversal effects made it look as though she was using her left arm while driving her car.
Needless to say that this poor injured worker was horrified. She was certain that she never used her painful, unstable left arm for anything, definitely never for driving – out of fear it may dislocate while turning right. The poor woman eventually attended a Medical Panel, where she was given a chance to view the surveillance footage in the presence of the Panel members, and to comment if she wished to do so.
During the replay of the video footage, it was noticed that the surveillance footage was quite unsteady, making it quite obvious that the camera had not been stabilised (eg. with a tripod) while filming. But most importantly, 9 minutes into the playback of the ‘gotcha’ surveillance footage, you could clearly see the camera ‘slip’ and the footage suddenly revealed the corner of the mirror for a split second. Reviewing that split second in slow motion indeed revealed a corner of the mirror used to re-film the initial surveillance video footage and the camera was on it too! In addition, the injured worker also pointed out that her right-sided car mirror was a replacement and was of a slightly lighter colour than her left-sided car mirror. This car mirror was also visible in the distorted footage, and the injured worker still had the receipt of the car mirror replacement, done over 6 months ago and confirmed by the local mechanic!
The matter was dealt with by the injured worker’s lawyer. The vile attempt to wrongfully deprive this injured worker of her genuine workcover benefits was exposed, but we don’t know what happened to the workcover insurer or the private investigator’s criminal activity (yet).
It does show – again – to what length workers comp insurance companies and their bedfellows will go to come up with the most unscrupulous schemes in order to deny or minimise genuine workers comp claims.