During a personal injury claim, you may discover that you are being followed, videotaped, and photographed. While undoubtedly uncomfortable and intrusive, “surveillance” is legal and is quite common.
The purpose and impact of surveillance
During a personal injury claim, the lawyer for the defendant insurance company often uses surveillance to challenge the severity of your injuries or to undermine your credibility. Surveillance is one of the most powerful tools at their disposal and, often, the insurer will put a significant amount of money towards it.
Even though you are experiencing pain and suffering following an accident, photograph and video evidence of you performing physical and social activities may provide the defence with evidence that you are not suffering as much as you say. If defence counsel can show that you seem to function better or have less severe symptoms than you claim, this can reduce the value of your claim or put it in jeopardy.
Types of surveillance
The insurance company’s lawyer may hire private investigators to follow you, taking photographs and video footage. The goal is often to capture you performing activities inconsistent with your claimed injuries and limitations.
The insurance company has access to your home address and so the investigator will often start at your home and follow you from there. The insurance company may take surveillance of you driving, running errands, or going on social or family outings. Investigators cannot trespass onto private property.
The insurance company may also complete online surveillance, such as by searching your name on for employment history, extracurricular involvement, and community activities as well as reviewing your social networking pages, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn.
Things to keep in mind
When you are the plaintiff in a personal injury matter, the case is yours to prove. As a result, the defence insurer may undertake surveillance to challenge your claims or to undermine your credibility.
It is important to be aware that anything you do that is visible to the public may be captured or accessed by the insurer. It is therefore important to be aware of how your statements, actions, and activities may appear to others.
You should be aware of your surroundings when outside of your home. It will not usually be difficult to spot an investigator. You may note a strange car with tinted windows parked on your street or a car following yours, as you go about your day. There is no need to react dramatically—simply be aware of their presence and, if possible, remove yourself.
Always advise your lawyer if you believe surveillance has occurred.
Your lawyer can help you to understand how best to manage this intrusive strategy.
Anna Stoll practices with the Siskinds Personal Injury Law department. If you have questions about the information contained within this article or any other personal injury questions, please write to [email protected] or call 519-660-7832.