Video Surveillance & Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases
What does the law say about video surveillance in Indiana Worker’s Compensation cases? Glad you asked – because the Goodin Abernathy LLP law firm handles those claims.
This video of a man, who seemingly fakes a fall and injury, is making the internet rounds. Click here to watch.
The video shows a man create his own water hazard and intentionally fall in it. When it comes to liability, Indiana’s worker’s compensation law favors workers – but this claim would probably “fall flat” in court.
So let’s look at two main points raised by the video:
1) How is liability handled in an Indiana Worker’s Compensation (“work comp”) claim?
2) Can the employer use video evidence?
A good part about Indiana’s work comp law is that an employer must accept a claim for accident and injury if an employee is hurt on the job. The employer cannot avoid responsibility and argue the employee is at fault for doing something wrong to cause the accident. This is a big difference from Indiana’s negligence law, where private individuals or businesses are suing each other. In a negligence case, a defendant can argue the plaintiff was more liable or “at fault” for causing the accident. If they prove it, the plaintiff can lose their whole case.
But not in an Indiana Worker’s Compensation case. As long as the accident occurred at work or in the scope of the employment, the employer must cover the claim.
There are a few exceptions. If the worker: intentionally caused the injury (watch that video again); was injured doing something criminal; or was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicants – then an employer can try to deny the claim.
On numerous occasions, we have represented injured clients against their employer’s intoxication defense. Usually these situations involve chemical test results showing traces of medicine, drugs or alcohol in the employee’s system. The employer must show, at the time of the accident, the intoxicants impaired the worker’s physical and mental abilities. That’s when you turn to the actual levels of intoxicants in the blood stream.
What if the worker consumed the substance days before the incident. While we do not condone it, what if the worker smoked marijuana the weekend before their accident? Calculations can be made to determine whether the substance actually affected the employee when the accident occurred. In some very serious injuries, that we won, we’ve proven our clients were not under the influence of drugs – even though traces showed up in their system.
Finally, YES, videos can be used in court. One reason could be for liability issues like the video that started this blog. Another reason could be to question our client’s credibility in a case where they claim permanent physical disability prevents them from working. An employer or its insurance company may have surveillance done, where a private investigator secretly follows the worker around, taking video of regular activities like driving, carrying groceries, fishing or cutting their lawn.
The Goodin Abernathy attorneys are very familiar with handling this evidence and give clients advice on how to conduct themselves, what to watch for and how to counter punch the private investigator’s assertions.
Indiana’s work comp law is well intentioned. It is designed with the thought an injured worker can represent herself in court without an attorney. But remember this: employers use sophisticated, trained insurance companies to defend the claims. Those insurance companies make money collecting premiums – not paying money towards injury claims. That’s why you should contact Goodin Abernathy LLP for advice on how to handle your Indiana Worker’s Compensation claim.