Defense Tactics: Part I – How Surveillance is Used in Personal Injury Litigation

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Defense attorneys and insurance companies frequently use surveillance to try to defeat a claimant’s personal injury case. Insurers and defense counsel will go to great lengths to locate evidence that they can use to try to convince a jury that an injured person is exaggerating their claims, or worse, lying about them outright. Although often not considered by victims, good attorneys know that covert surveillance is extremely common in personal injury cases. An injured person seeking justice after an accident should be aware that they are likely to face these tactics.

“In my 20-plus years working as an insurance defense attorney, the insurance companies used covert surveillance in hundreds and hundreds of cases. It is a routine part of defending against a personal injury claim. Insurers used it so often because they know how potent surveillance can be as a tool to undermine a claimant’s credibility with a jury.” – Attorney Patrick Martin.

In the age of technology, surveillance tactics have become increasingly sophisticated, and understanding how they’re employed is crucial for anyone navigating a personal injury claim.

The Surveillance Arsenal

  1. Video Surveillance – Video cameras are everywhere. We have become inured to them, to the point that they are built into most of our cell phones. Many retail stores, gas stations, and restaurants have surveillance cameras running 24 hours a day. Intersections are often monitored by cameras to detect traffic violations. Cameras may be set up near claimants’ homes and jobs. All of these cameras provide rich sources of video for defense attorneys and insurers to comb through, seeking evidence harmful to the claimant’s case. Defense attorneys and insurance companies count on video surveillance to capture anything that they can use to try to undermine a claim. Videos can be used to dispute the severity of injuries or to catch claimants engaging in activities that defense attorneys can argue contradict their reported limitations.
  2. Social Media Monitoring – In the digital age, social media platforms offer a treasure trove of information. Investigators and defense lawyers scour through claimants’ social media profiles looking for any evidence that contradicts their claims of injury or impairment. A seemingly innocent post or picture engaging in physical activities can be misconstrued and used against the claimant. Even photos posted years before an accident can sometimes be used against a claimant at trial.
  3. Activity Checks – Private investigators may be hired to secretly monitor and record a claimant’s daily activities. They may follow them throughout the day, secretly taking photographs or videos, and document any activities that they think contradict the claimed injuries. Whether it’s a visit to the gym or engaging in household chores, any activity that the defense attorney can argue is inconsistent with the reported injuries can be used to challenge the validity of a claim.

Navigating the Terrain

For claimants and their attorneys, awareness of surveillance tactics is paramount. Here are some strategies to navigate this landscape:

Social Media: Be mindful of what you post on social media. Avoid posting comments, stories or photos about the accident or your injuries. Set your social media permissions to “private,” so that only known friends and family can see them.

Surveillance: If you are pursuing a claim for personal injury, be aware that you may be under secret surveillance any time you leave your home.

Transparency and Consistency: It is essential for claimants to be transparent, truthful, and consistent in their statements regarding their injuries and activities. Any discrepancies or inconsistencies can be exploited by the defense to discredit the claim.

In the high-stakes arena of personal injury litigation, surveillance tactics wielded by defense lawyers and insurance companies pose a formidable challenge. At Phil Hall, P.A., our attorneys have a deep understanding of how surveillance is employed and its strategic implications. By navigating this terrain with awareness, transparency, and strategic preparedness, we always strive for a fair resolution that upholds our client’s rights and fully compensates them for their losses. If you or your loved one has been injured by the negligence of others and you want to speak with attorneys who listen, give us a call.

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