Video Evidence At Illinois Workers' Compensation Trials
If your work injury case is going to trial at the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, winning or losing comes down to the evidence presented. Mostly that will be from your testimony and the medical records that get submitted that show what you told your doctors and what treatment you received. There also could be a deposition of your doctor and the company IME doctor as well as any witnesses for or against you.
In some cases, the insurance company will hire a company to do surveillance on you. Their hope is to get video evidence of you not following your doctor's orders or showing that you are lying or exaggerating about your symptoms. If you have a back injury, but they show you working out with heavy weights, that will look bad for you.
In other cases, there could be video of you injuring yourself. Many buildings have cameras set up and can prove (or disprove) that you were injured while working. This is beneficial when you suffer a slip and fall or if you notice immediate pain when lifting something while working. There was a case recently where a worker won their trial because the video evidence showed that they moved out of the way of falling boxes, just as they testified. It made them more credible.
There's other video evidence that isn't used as much, but should be more often, especially with how easy it is to film something these days. I'm talking about film that shows what you do at work and how you do it.
This is really useful in cases where you are alleging that the repetitive nature of your job has caused or contributed to your injury. It's one thing to say you do a certain type of task a lot, it's completely another to show a doctor who is going to testify on your behalf or against you what the work is, how you do it, how forceful it is, the way your arms move and bend, etc. It also can be very impactful to an Arbitrator in deciding for or against you.
You may not have permission from your company to make such a video, but certainly should try to get in after consulting with your attorney first. It can be a real powerful trial strategy. In the alternative, if filming is not allowed on-site, your lawyer might have you prepare a video that simulates the work you do or had to do when you got hurt. And if you can't do it physically, they can someone else perform the tasks.
It's one thing to say, “I used a large hammer a lot,” and completely another thing to show the force used in swinging one and then make clear that you did this 50 times a day. Some Arbitrators just can't picture how big some work tools are, but get impacted when they see it. The same goes for doctors.
In the end, this is why having an experienced work comp trial attorney really makes a huge difference. It can be the difference between winning and losing your case. Insurance companies will use video to their advantage when they can. You should too.
Disclaimer: WorkersCompensation.com publishes independently generated writings from a variety of workers' compensation industry stakeholders. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of WorkersCompensation.com.