…and you never know when a Private Investigator is hiding in your bushes!
Most workers compensation surveillance cases I work can be captured from a vehicle of a nearby location that affords me the luxury of cover as a private investigator. However, every once in a while I have to put on camouflage and sneak into some pretty tight spots.
In May of 2003, I had one of my investigators attempt to perform surveillance of a back injury claimant in central Louisiana. After a couple of days, the guy was not active, so my investigator knocked on the door of the residence, and in doing so, he saw the guy in his back yard working in a garden, so he approached him and spoke to him under a pretext and verified that it was the subject and then he left.
He immediately called me and described the subject’s residence, his garden and the surrounding area which was basically woods. This required the use of a second investigator so that we could set up surveillance from the wooded area behind the house and obviously a second investigator would be needed in a vehicle in case the subject did leave the residence.
I personally established a surveillance position from this wooded area, watching the garden in the back yard, and in doing so, I was able to obtain approximately three hours of video footage of the subject working in the garden, a lot of bending and stooping and also using a gasoline-powered tiller.
During this time, there was a female who had come out of the residence and attempted to have a conversation with him while he was working in the garden. She initially requested that he take her to the store to get her “some cigarettes,” and he continued to ignore her. Later in the surveillance, she made the comment that “we need to go to the store and get you something to drink because you’re going to die of heatstroke,” and his response was the same. He continued to ignore her and her frustration was mounting and finally she yelled out and said, “I hope worker’s comp takes pictures of you!”
Needless to say, I was in a position that was nerve-racking because I was so close to the subject. In order to be able to see him, I was probably a distance of between maybe 10 and 20 yards, and that’s closer than you want to be or that you like to be, but it was necessary to be able to see anything, because the woods around the back of his house are so thick. You have to almost get up to the very edge of those woods to be able to see him working in the garden, so here I am very close to the subject, and I can clearly hear everything they’re saying. Further, I had been there, by the way, since early that morning, right at daybreak, got into position obviously before I anticipated his coming out of the house so that I could, be in position and not have to move around a lot.
So, when she made the comment about hoping that worker’s comp would take pictures of him, it was very bizarre, and somewhat frightening simply because of the fact that they had no idea that I was there actually filming the whole thing.
While I am typically not privy to the outcome of these cases, I can say that I have seen the capturing of that sort of language on surveillance video to be an effective vehicle for creating prejudicial value in the case.
To add to it all, I almost stepped on a venomous snake while sneaking out of there…but that’s another story.