Repetitive Christmas Decoration Hanging Syndrome

A female employee went out on a Workers Comp claim due to the repetitive motion injury “carpal tunnel syndrome” in both wrists. She and her doctor indicated that she had a fairly severe case of carpal tunnel and could not use either arm or wrist for lifting, twisting or typing.

Surveillance was approved, and initially we did not see any evidence contrary to the claimant’s allegations. But rumors persisted in the workplace that the claimant was not as injured as she claimed.

Since the holiday season was approaching, I suggested that we conduct surveillance near Christmas, thinking we might find the claimant involved in typical holiday activities inconsistent with her claimed injuries.

Thinking that the weekend would provide the best opportunity, we set up surveillance on a Saturday early in December.We observed and filmed the claimant over both weekend days putting up outdoor Christmas lights and decorations outside the house. Her activity included climbing a ladder and even getting up on the roof, untangling Christmas lights, lifting lights and decorations over her head and using a heavy-duty staple gun. She did all this with no hesitation or obvious signs of discomfort or disability.

We later learned that the claimant was separated from her husband and was the person responsible for all the “chores” around the house. In this case, that included climbing up on the roof and preparing the house with all the signs of Christmas cheer.

Once the film of this festive weekend was shown to the claimant’s attorney, the holiday season became a lot less cheery his client. Thus it is demonstrated (Q.E.D.) that the benefits of holiday surveillance are many. Somehow the effort to play the part weakens significantly during holiday seasons. Perhaps claimants lying about their physical condition get caught up in the spirit of things and forget they are “injured.”Whatever the reason, it is wise to use this weakness amongst the fraud-inclined to get the film that resolves the matter. Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years are the most productive for this purpose.

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