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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surveillance Crosses the Privacy Line

Surveillance in workers compensation matters creates sensitive issues regarding privacy. The bright-line of what is public versus private becomes even more acute as employers and insurance companies investigate fraud concerns. When companies cross the line the consequences can be serious.

Several Montana attorneys have sought relief from a Court for what they call a breach of the privacy of the injured workers whom they represent. The attorneys allege that insurance fraud investigators, on behalf of a Montana insurance fund, have violated the privacy rights of their client by recording surveillance videos  and giving them to examining physicians, in order to facilitate reports that the injured workers are malingering.

The attorneys represent that  in over 800 instances, over the past several years, criminal surveillance tapes were unilaterally provided to defense medical experts to the detriment of their client's right to privacy. Harassment of injured workers creates fear that deters claims to benefit of employers and their insurance carriers. Inured workers have limited resources to fight such unscrupulous behavior. The attorneys in Montana had done a great pro bono and public service to take on Goliath on behalf of David. Hopefully the courts will balance the playing field and protect the rights of the injured worker from such tactics.

Workers' compensation was designed as a simple and equitable system. It was intentionally designed for the benefit of all the parties who participate in it. It is important that when the system becomes unbalanced that all the participants join in the effort equally to both redesign and rebalance the program.