Someone might be following you and monitoring your every move. It might sound like something straight out of an old-fashioned spy novel, but technology has made modern-day surveillance easier than ever before. For those involved in personal injury cases, there’s a very real probability that someone is using surveillance and watching in the hopes of gaining evidence that will help the defendant.
If you’re facing the possibility of surveillance during a personal injury case, you might be feeling a wave of emotional responses. Many people wonder if this kind of surveillance — which can feel quite invasive — is even legal. It can also be frustrating to have your honesty and integrity questioned.
In order to keep a level head and remain focused on the case at hand, it’s best to put these emotional responses aside and focus on the facts. Here’s what you need to know about surveillance in personal injury cases.
Is surveillance in personal injury cases legal?
First, let’s deal with the legality issue. While it might feel like an invasion of privacy, insurance companies are within their legal rights to make use of surveillance technology in order to make their case. This legal right to keep tabs on an individual is not without boundaries, however.
Generally speaking, it’s perfectly legal to make a video recording, take still photographs, or follow and observe someone in a public setting. Here are some common places where surveillance footage and photographs may legally be captured:
- Outdoor public spaces (such as a park or sidewalk)
- Public-facing workspace (like a retail job)
- Grocery stores
Private spaces are typically off-limit for surveillance. Your home, restrooms, a private office, and locker rooms are typically not allowable spaces for surveillance. However, the movement to and from these spaces may still be monitored.
The laws involving audio recordings are more complex, and several states disallow audio recordings without the consent of the person being recorded.
Surveillance might also extend to interviews with other people who are close to the injured party. Neighbors, family members, and co-workers may find themselves approached by investigators who are attempting to gather evidence about the injured party and their day-to-day activities and abilities.
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What is the goal of surveillance in personal injury cases?
In a personal injury case, the victim often uses their injury as evidence that they deserve compensation. If, for example, a car accident leaves the victim with debilitating back pain that makes it impossible for them to continue their normal work, they may seek compensation for lost wages, medical treatment, and pain and suffering. To put it simply, demonstrating that the injury has caused a disruption to the victim’s life makes it more likely that they will receive increased compensation.
Meanwhile, the defense wants to prove exactly the opposite. By demonstrating that the victim is not actually as negatively impacted by the injury as they claim, the defense aims to reduce or eliminate the compensation.
Surveillance can help achieve this goal. If a victim claims to have a debilitating back injury that prevents them from moving freely but the defense presents video evidence of the victim running through the park, it could hamper the plaintiff’s case for compensation.
Insurance companies may hire investigators to capture surveillance footage to demonstrate that a plaintiff has more strength, range of motion, or ability to work than claimed in the personal injury lawsuit.
What can be done about surveillance in a personal injury case?
The truth is that not much can be done to prevent surveillance if the insurance company has decided to use this defense tactic. It may be unnerving to feel as if you are being watched, but it’s important to remember that the facts of your case are the most important part of the ongoing lawsuit.
It is best to try to act as if the surveillance is not taking place. Do not attempt to exaggerate an injury for the cameras. At the same time, you should continue with your day-to-day actions as long as you are following the advice and recommendations of the medical professionals treating the injury. It’s important to keep your own documentation of the impact the injury has on your life. Many injuries are complex and do not have a consistent and constant impact on an individual’s life. This does not mean that the injury’s harm is any less real or substantial.
Speaking with a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney can be an important step to navigating the complexities of your personal injury case. If you believe there is surveillance involved, it can be helpful to have a professional on your side who can help make sure that your case is documented clearly and fully in order to combat the defense’s narrative about your injury and its impact. You deserve to tell your story about the injury’s impact on your life with clarity and confidence.
Reach out today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your personal injury case.