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Casualty Surveillance in 2020 – Facing COVID-19

What the Coronavirus Means for Casualty Surveillance in 2020

When most people think of the Coronavirus, the immediate thought goes to doctors in hazmat suits and patients in isolation. For those who are at a high risk and are infected by the virus, this is likely an accurate portrayal, but for the vast majority of us, life is fairly normal and some of the modifications to our daily routines even make casualty surveillance in 2020 more effective.

casualty surveillance in 2020 COVID-19

When confirmed cases do come to an area where casualty claims surveillance needs to be conducted, we look to life in Seattle right now as what to expect. Barring a meltdown on the scale of Northern Italy, it looks like the following is more in line with what may occur:  For some, the local school system may close, leaving those with children occupied with kids all day, every day. Some large employers also close and ask employees to telecommute or simply wait it out for two weeks. We also see less activity at most retail stores and entertainment venues. People are clearly avoiding crowded public places. This can seem to point to people doing less, and making surveillance less effective, but if one looks a little deeper, it may actually create more opportunities than obstacles.

Very few people are traveling, so they are much easier to find at home. For casualty surveillance, what can be worse than an empty house? We need activity, and travel and vacations frustrate and delay surveillance efforts. Thanks to COVID-19, travel for most seems to be on hold. Even if one wants to venture out for a vacation by car, many destinations like cruises and hotels are viewed as dangerous. Many work-related conferences and trainings have been cancelled. All of this means, the claimants are that much easier to find and observe.

There is far less of a fear of COVID-19 outdoors. Getting outside for exercise, going to the park, taking a bike ride and the like are great ways to get out of the house and not increase your risk of possible infection.  We expect to see these types of activities actually increase, especially in families with children that may end up being home from school.

We still see friends and family, we still shop, we still work. Toilet paper hoarding aside, people being good stewards to the community and their family are not locked in their homes 24/7. They go over to friends’ houses, they visit with the neighbors, they tend to their obligations.

We’re Americans. Most of us are impatient and somewhat spoiled. We want what we want, and we rarely sit still. As time goes by, we get more impatient and do things. Self-imposed virus quarantine will grow old quickly for the healthy Americans who are not at the highest risk. People will do stuff and venture out.  Life will continue on.

On Wall Street, there is a narrative that home improvement retailers will be great beneficiaries of a protracted COVID-19 virus, because people may skip travel and crowded venues, and instead they will work on their house and the yard. If one wishes to see someone’s true physical capabilities, yard work and improvement projects are gold!

What we don’t do is go into large crowds if possible. The good news about that is we rarely find that surveillance footage of a claimant going to the movies or the casino to be fantastic stuff that disproves an injury when it comes to casualty surveillance in 2020 or any previous year. Crowded locations, although they may be easy to hide in, also make it easier for the claimant to be lost and some opportunities for video to be inhibited by the crowd or the movement of others. Much of the potential activity that we would likely obtain in these venues is of walking and sitting.

Seniors appear to be the one exception. Given how lethal COVID-19 is to the elderly, it is no surprise that most older people in infected areas are laying low. This demographic also has far less obligations than others. Most are retired and don’t have dependents to care for. Their activities outside of the home are often confined to the usual medical appointments and basic shopping. This is a group that was already used to being home most of the time and they also have more patience. We would recommend avoiding surveillance on claimants within this population until the virus has abated.

A final closing thought is that the virus has everyone’s attention and when the malingering or fraudulent claimant is occupied with virus related changes in behavior, he or she is far more likely to let their guard down and actually demonstrate their real capabilities and give you great footage to make better claims decisions.

At Sherlock Investigations, we are recommending one adjustment to the normal process of scheduling casualty surveillance in 2020… at least for the time-being. Add a day. We feel that this is the best way to both optimize the opportunity to obtain footage of your claimant and to hedge against any risk of potential virus-related inactivity.

Sherlock Investigations