If you have been injured and have commenced legal action, it is not unusual to find that you may be under surveillance. In most personal injury cases, insurance companies are the real defendants. They are the ones that are paying the adjuster, hiring and instructing the defence lawyer and defence doctors, and they will ultimately approve the settlement of the claim and put forth the money to pay it off.
Surveillance is one part of an insurance adjuster’s due diligence approach in an effort to limit their company’s exposure and an eventual payout.
WHERE CAN I EXPECT TO BE WATCHED?
Insurance companies can shoot video, take audio or take still photographs of an injured victim anytime in a public setting. The street in front of your home is a public location and a private investigator can park here to take photos or video of anything they can see from this vantage point.
Private investigators can also follow you to work, to appointments, and to other public places. For example, individuals are often recorded while they are shopping or running errands, putting out the garbage, driving, going for a walk in a park, or lifting children or other heavy objects.
WHY IS SURVEILLANCE USED IN PERSONAL INJURY CASES?
Surveillance is commonly used to capture the personal injury victim doing something that they said they couldn’t do. It is a means to expose inconsistencies, attack the personal injury victim’s credibility and attempt to make the victim look like he/she is exaggerating reported injuries and limitations. Video surveillance is typically taken in only the most serious or contentious cases.
Rest assured that if you have been truthful throughout your injury and recovery when speaking to your employer, your doctors, and your lawyer, there is little that video surveillance can uncover that can damage your legal case.
WHEN TO EXPECT SURVEILLANCE TO OCCUR
There are some pertinent times during your legal case when insurance companies might use surveillance. This may begin right at the start of your case in an effort to verify details, such as to confirm whether you are housebound as a result of your injuries.
Another typical time to expect surveillance is at the point of “Questioning”. This is a meeting that occurs between the personal injury victim, his/her lawyer, and the defendant’s lawyer to review all the details regarding the victim, the injury, and the victim’s current condition. This process allows the opposing party to find out all of the details associated with the lawsuit and an attempt to obtain admissions that may be used at a trial. This is a time when the opposing party knows that you will be travelling to attend a meeting and will use this opportunity to verify your mobility and the presence of any obvious physical disability.
Surveillance may also occur during the preparation for trial and settlement negotiation stage of the litigation process. This is the time when the insurance company will be looking for evidence to verify or contest information provided by the injured victim during the Questioning phase.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING WATCHED FOLLOWING A PERSONAL INJURY
If you believe that you are being watched or surveilled, it is recommended that you continue to live your life as you always have. The legal team at Cuming & Gillespie also recommends the following:
- Do not exaggerate your injuries and limitations;
- Always remain truthful;
- Do not take part in activities that your doctor has advised against;
- Consistency is important when reporting to all doctors and assessors;
- Do not take risks that may worsen your injuries;
- Do your best not to allow your injuries to interfere with participating in your normal life.
If you suspect that you are being watched, it is important to tell your personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Once your lawyer knows that surveillance is a possibility, they can request copies of any evidence obtained through surveillance to begin working on a response to this evidence.
As easy as it is for someone to monitor and record your activities in public, it is just as easy for your activities on the internet and through your social media accounts to be monitored as well. All of your photographs, posts and comments online can be used by the insurance company and can be used in court as well. Please see our earlier blog regarding social media and the personal injury case for more information regarding how social media can affect your personal injury claim.
Following a personal injury accident, it is never too late to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your options or pursuing a legal claim against a negligent party. At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, we represent individuals who suffer from all types of serious personal injuries. If you or a loved one have sustained an injury and would like more information about your legal options, we can help. For a free initial consultation with one of Calgary’s award winning personal injury lawyers, please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555.