Disabled Man Caught on Video Eating a Taco Chip

Posted on Nov 25, 2009

Insurance companies have been known to employ sneaky tactics to deny disability payments.  Insurers have even gone as far as to hire private investigators to videotape the disabled.  The hope is that the disabled person will be caught doing something that would go against his or her disability.  One recent story shows that insurance companies sometimes go too far. 

Jack “Rocky” Whitten claims that his disability benefits from The Hartford were terminated partly because he was caught eating a taco chip on video.  Whitten suffers from pain and memory loss and had been receiving disability payments. 

A private investigator was hired by the insurance company to follow Whitten.  He was captured on video reading a magazine, getting into a car, and eating a chip dipped into salsa.  This video cost Whitten his disability payments. 

Whitten had broken his neck in a fall seven years ago.  His doctor said that he did everything he could to try to get back to work.  Luckily, Whitten had purchased a disability insurance policy with The Hartford ten years ago.  

A representative from The Hartford visited Whitten and his wife.  During the visit the representative asked a lot of questions and then showed the video surveillance tape. Whitten’s payments were later terminated. 

The Hartford stated that it uses surveillance to prevent fraud and that this tactic is used in less than 5 percent of claims.  However, ABC News discovered that there had been more than a dozen cases where federal courts ruled that The Hartford improperly overemphasized their surveillance video. 

Eventually, The Hartford reinstated Whitten’s disability payments, which was eight days after “Good Morning America” contacted the insurer to ask about Whitten’s case. 

The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. represents individuals that have had their valid long term disability benefits denied, delayed or terminated irrespective of whether the policy was purchased individually or issued through an employer group policy.  The firm is available to assist individuals with the initial application process, during the administrative appeals process, handling denials of claims or termination of benefits, litigation in state or federal court, and negotiating a one-time lump sum settlement or buy-out.  Please contact our office to discuss your case in more detail.

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