Video and photo surveillance of an injured person is frequently employed by insurance companies to rebut claims of injuries in auto accident and personal injury cases. Florida courts have held that because of the public interest in exposing fraudulent claims, an injured party must expect that a reasonable investigation will be made by an insurance company after the filing of an injury claim. Insurance companies find that surveillance is effective at trial because it is easily understood by a jury, is persuasive, admissible under the rules of evidence, and often entertaining. It is most effective when used to impeach a person’s credibility as to the extent of his or her injuries. An insurance company or defense investigator can shoot video, take audio or take still photographs of an injured person anytime they are in a public setting. This includes common activities such as eating out at a restaurant, grocery shopping, walking a dog around a neighborhood or driving to work. This also means that an injured party can be videotaped while at work while in a public setting.
There are limits though. Basic privacy rights are retained. An invasion of an injured party’s right to privacy may occur if the investigator is snooping around the person’s home, knocking on the person’s door under false pretenses, following the person closely in public places, or otherwise conducting surveillance in an unreasonable and obtrusive manner.
If you believe a private investigator caught you on video either at home or at work, do nothing different from what you normally would do. Don’t exaggerate your injuries for the sake of the camera. Take down as much information as you can gather about the surveillance, such as the license plate number of a suspect vehicle or general physical description of a suspected investigator, and report this information to your attorney. Do not approach a suspected investigator or attempt to engage in any communication.
The following is one of many personal injury questions asked on avvo.com which our car accident attorney, Mike Hancock has answered.
Question: My fiancé was in a horrible car wreck. He sustained serious injuries broken bones, surgeries and was in a coma for 3 days. He is unable to go back to work and will require lifetime medical care. A private investigator caught casing around our house and even had a person posing as an insurance agent. They showed up unannounced and took off fast once I requested ID.
Answer: Insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to perform surveillance on personal injury claimants. It is legal for them to do so. You have nothing to worry about as long as you are truthful in the statements you make to your doctors and to insurance company representatives regarding what you can and cannot do as a result of your injuries. I will tell you that the insurance company either believes your fiancé’s claim has substantial value, and they are trying to find something to minimize their exposure, or they have reason to believe your fiancé is currently exaggerating his claim. Either way, I highly recommend that your fiancé seek legal representation as soon as possible. Once a lawyer files a lawsuit against the party causing your fiancé’s injuries, the attorney will be able to obtain the surveillance tapes and take depositions of the investigators.
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