As part of its investigation, surveillance investigators may be used by an insurance company if a claimant is pursuing a personal injury claim. The goal is to find things that can be used against the claimant and raise issues that could potentially be damaging.
If the insurance company can catch the individual engaging in an activity that contradicts the injuries being claimed, it could result in the claimant’s damages being diminished or even denied.
Using Video Surveillance When Investigating a Personal Injury Claim
If there is ever a question as to the nature, extent or severity of an injury, an insurance company may put the individual under video surveillance. This way, they may capture the person performing a task that the insurance company may argue he/she shouldn’t be able to do.
Let’s say the individual has indicated a severe back injury after an accident. The victim claims to be bedridden, enduring chronic pain. Yet the person is caught on camera loading groceries into the car. After the surveillance investigators follow the individual around, the claimant is captured running other errands, which could indicate that there is no back injury or it’s not as severe as claimed.
Using Social Media When Investigating a Personal Injury Claim
Video surveillance takes effort and the investment of time. Although it can be extremely helpful to a surveillance investigator, today it is much easier to monitor someone through social media. With a few clicks of the mouse, a personal injury claim could be destroyed.
Victims can be put under surveillance by the surveillance investigator when they periodically check Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts. There are a few ways that information put online can end up damaging a claimant’s case.
One is through photographs. After an accident, it isn’t unusual for victims to share with others what happened, so they might post a status update about the accident or a picture online of their damaged vehicle. It might seem innocent enough, but any comments – even a reassuring, “I’m okay,” to the individual’s friends – could be twisted and used against the claimant.
The person might not have necessarily meant he/she wasn’t injured. “I’m okay,” might have been a way to say it could have been worse. But those two words could be used by surveillance investigators to diminish a personal injury claim.
According to the eDiscovery Daily Blog, an electronic discovery news and analysis blog for lawyers, “On May 19, 2011 the court ruled in favor of a motion to compel the plaintiff in Zimmerman v. Weis Markets, Inc., to disclose his usernames, login names and passwords for Facebook and MySpace accounts that contained hidden or private posts.” So even making something private, but still online, may not be enough.
Discussing injuries online is not a good idea. This means it’s also important to monitor what others might put on social media about the claimant or accident, such as photos of the claimant. It could be that a photograph of the individual skiing was from a year ago, but without a date stamp it could be mistaken as something recent.
The best way to protect a personal injury case is to have the help of legal counsel. D.J. Banovitz can explain the investigative measures that the insurance company and surveillance investigators may take and how claimants can safeguard their personal injury claim.