When an injury causes a lawsuit, a defendant’s insurance company or lawyer might spy on you. The insurance company’s goal of surveillance is to find any evidence that shows you are not as severely injured as you claim. Therefore, they owe you less money.
Why do Insurance Companies Spy?
When you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, a lawsuit will help you recover damages for the losses the injury caused. Damages help pay for medical bills that you incur as a result of the injury and future medical costs. Sometimes, insurance companies and defense attorneys will try to gather information to undermine the validity or severity or your injury. This tactic is used to minimize your claim or to decrease your damages. For example, if you have a terrible leg injury from a personal injury incident. In that case, the insurance company might be surveilling you as you are out in public to photograph or videotape you performing an activity that might belittle your injury. The insurance company could argue that the photo of you loading groceries into your car shows that your leg functions correctly and can maneuver heavy loads.
What are Insurance Companies Trying to Find?
Denfense attorneys and insurance companies want to find any visual or audio evidence showing a diminished severity of your injury. They often hire private investigators for this purpose. They will use:
- Video surveillance. Private investigators have placed hunting cameras outside an injured party’s neighborhood or home.
- Photographs. These can be taken out in public or gathered from social media posts.
- Audio surveillance. Also, from being out in public or social media posts.
- Contacting friends, family, and co-workers. Privat investigators may attempt to contact people know to gather information about the extent of your injuries.
Is This Legal?
It is legal for private investigators hired by insurance companies or defense lawyers to survey you in public spaces. However, if a private investigator has surveiled you in a place that is considered private, like inside your home or in a fenced backyard, this would be illegal. In those spaces, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, and if investigators interfere with that, then they are breaking privacy laws.
What is legal?
- A private investigator following you – Yes, this is legal. A private investigator can follow you when you are in a public space.
- Observation in a public place – Being observed in a private area is illegal. A private investigator cannot acquire this type of evidence.
- Photos, videos, and audio clips This is legal, but only if it is done in a public space.
- Wire tapping/monitoring your phone line – This method is illegal.
- Rummaging through trash on your property – This is illegal. Investigators cannot look through the trash in your garbage cans on your property.
What are Your Rights?
Illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in court—Misseldine v. Corporate Investigative Servs., 2003-Ohio-2740 (Ohio 2003), demonstrates the Ohio Supreme Court’s interpretation of illegally obstained surveillance evidence. The court found when investigators took a subject’s garbage to look through, this was an invasion of privacy. Only garbage collectors have permission to enter a person’s property and take their trash.
In another case, State ex rel. Keebler Co. v. Indus. Comm., 2012 Ohio 2402 (10th Dist. 2012), an Ohio appeallate court held that an insurance company must prove the weight and credibility of the evidence they collected from surveillance. In Keebler Co., investigators filmed an individual who had a workplace injury. The investigators filmed her riding a lawn mower in her yard and cleaning a pool with a skimmer. The insurance company used this datas to support an argument that the worker was not as injured as she claimed.
To the possibility of your serious injuries being questioned or misinterpreted, do not share anything about your case (legal or health progress or details, etc.) on websites, blogs, or social media platforms. Furthermore, do not try to push your physical activity limits. Evidence that you have not followed doctors’ orders may be detrimental to your claim.
Steps You Should Take and Steps You Should Avoid Surveillance
It is essential to take the proper steps to protect yourself from evidence that could diminish your claim because it is either misinterpreted or misconstrued. Make sure you are following your physician’s advice. Follow thge recommendations of your healthcare providers concerning rest and physical activities. You should also protect your online information. To do this, keep your social media accounts private and do not accept friend requests from strangers. Avoid posting any information about the incident or your recovery online. Remember to ask a lawyer about your rights. If someone is unlawfully surveilling you, contact your lawyer and the police. Your rights and safety are of the utmost importance
Trust the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm to Protect Your Rights During a Lawsuit
Here at TLF, our team of experienced attorneys has decades of experience handling personal injury lawsuits and advising clients on the potential for surveillance by insurance companies. We will conduct a thorough investigation into your claim, carefully examining all relevant details, and advise you if there is a possibility that an insurance company is spying on you. We want to ensure that no one will question the severity of your claim.
To gain more insight into medical malpractice cases and insurance surveillance, call us toll-free at (800) 698-4054 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our medical malpractice lawyers.