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Posted: October 12th 2017


Insurance companies love surveillance. It's expensive, takes forever, and rarely yields any good stuff or compromising pics. Understand that surveillance happens to 99% of injured victims. You are not alone.

So why do they do it?

You dared to start a claim. It's that simple.

Insurance companies are the real defendants in most injury claims. They pay the adjuster, hire and instruct the defence lawyer, hire and pay their professional defence doctors and ultimately approve any settlement of the claim and write the cheque. Surveillance is part of most adjusters' due diligence checklist. Insurance companies have standard operational policies and procedures to attempt to limit their exposure and limit their payout. It's not personal. You have not done anything wrong. You are simply one of thousands of injury victims in front of their camera.

It is the insurance company's hope that a private investigator can take a photo of you or film video footage of you doing an activity that you said you couldn't do or the ordinary person would think you couldn't do because of your injury.

Insurance companies are playing the odds that they get lucky with a questionable pic that suggests you can do more than you claimed.

The strategy is to attack your credibility and make it look like you are exaggerating your injuries and your limitations. You said you couldn't shovel the snow. Here you are shoveling snow.

What the photo or video doesn't show is the pain suffered during that five minutes of shoveling snow off the porch. The photo also doesn't show why you had to pick up that shovel. Chances are, your wife had a medical appointment and couldn't wade the snow to get to the sidewalk and out to the bus stop. No one else could or would help. Your neighbour was at work. And because of the injury, and the financial hardship that almost always results,  you  didn't have the cash to pay a commercial snow removal company to do the job. You had no choice but to pick up a shovel and live with the pain.

A surveillance photo is simply one frozen moment in time. It's literally a brief, bitten off second in time. Surveillance is never a helpful or rich measure of an injured person's ability to get back to work. Surveillance never shows the pain you are feeling at that moment. It most certainly can never show the pain you will suffer for the rest of your life because of someone else's negligence.

Surveillance never shows context. Surveillance never radiates the pain involved. And surveillance never explains. It is the job of an experienced injury lawyer to explain.

Here's what your injury lawyer will do:

  1. Review that Photo or Video With You: a picture is never worth a 1000 words. You have the words. Chances are the photo doesn't show your wife leaning on her cane slowly making her way to the bus stop. Chances are the photo doesn't show you leaning on the shovel, taking deep breaths between shoveling, and holding your back as you try to help your wife off the porch;
  2. Ask For a Complete Copy of the Unedited Video Footage: if the insurance company's lawyer wishes to actually rely on this photo and video at Trial, she should be prepared to hand over all of the unedited footage as well as the time logs and records made by the private investigator substantiating his work and his invoice. It is amazing what can be discovered. Time and date sequence often vary between the edited and unedited video; and
  3. Hire Your Own Expert: should the surveillance warrant the expense, then the plaintiff and his lawyer may hire their own video expert to review the footage and determine if  it is truly authentic.

No one video or picture is ever a 'gotcha', case-busting bomb. That's the stuff of bad B movies. It isn't real life. And picture perfect cases don't exist for either plaintiffs or defendants.

One last thing: Do you love Facebook and Twitter? Beware.

Because What Happens on Facebook, Doesn’t Stay on Facebook.

Insurance companies consider your social media accounts to be fair game and just a natural extension of their surveillance plan. If they are taking pictures, they are reading your Facebook and Twitter.

What you share with friends, you may end up sharing with the insurance company and the Court.

Read our companion Blog article for specific info about your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Insurance companies know that even injured people are occasionally forced by circumstance and budget to attempt activities and chores.  Life happens. Surveillance is very common. It's a known trick of the trade. Talk to your experienced injury lawyer about it so that you know what to expect. Know where you stand.

What To Do About Surveillance

P.S. You Have Not Done Anything Wrong

P.P.S. You Are Not The Bad Guy