How Surveillance Works in Personal Injury Claims
The injured survivors of traumatic accidents may choose to pursue personal injury claims in order to recover compensation for their damages. The damages to which they may be entitled can vary depending on the facts of the case. Several factors, including the severity of the injuries sustained and the impacts they have had on the accident survivor’s life can influence the amount of damages to which a claimant may be entitled.
Someone who has been injured as the result of another party’s negligence may be entitled to damages that are both pecuniary and non-pecuniary in nature. That means they could receive compensation for the total financial losses they have incurred or will incur in the future because of their injuries, as well as compensation for difficult-to-quantify damages, such as pain and suffering.
In order to substantiate just how severe a claimant’s injuries are and how thoroughly their lives have been impacted by the events of their accident, insurance companies and defense litigators often rely on various forms of surveillance. Personal injury claims are won and lost on the merits of the available evidence. If an insurance provider or defense lawyer can find evidence that delegitimizes the claimant’s case, the accident survivor may be unable to recover compensation for their damages.
That is why it is important to be aware of the types of surveillance that could be used by insurers and defense lawyers. If you are involved in personal injury litigation or a disability claim dispute with your insurance company, safeguarding yourself against intrusive surveillance may help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Types of Surveillance Techniques
Surveillance is a legal tactic employed by insurance companies and legal professionals to gather information about a claimant’s daily activities, physical condition, and even their emotional state. This is done in an attempt to assess the extent of the injuries and to verify the legitimacy of the injured accident survivor’s claim.
Insurance companies or legal teams working for the defendant may hire private investigators to monitor an accident survivor’s activities. Physical surveillance involves the observation and documentation of a claimant’s activities in public spaces. Skilled investigators discreetly monitor the claimant’s movements to gain insights into their daily routines and to make sure they are indeed suffering from the injuries they claim to have sustained. They may use high-resolution surveillance cameras to capture visual evidence of a claimant’s activities. The photographic and video evidence they capture can then be used by the defense lawyers to dispute medical reports, victim impact statements, and witness testimonies in an attempt to disprove the injured party’s claim.
Since lawyers and the Court can consider content shared on social media as evidence, private investigators can also monitor a claimant’s online presence to gather evidence that might be relevant to their case. If someone’s online presence does not reflect the injuries they are claiming in a lawsuit, their claim for recovery of damages can be harmed, or even denied.
How Social Media Content Can Be Used as Evidence in Personal Injury Claims
Evidence from social media platforms can be admitted to Court to discredit injured accident victims and disprove their personal injury claims. Even seemingly innocent, harmless status updates, photos, or videos can be taken out of context to disprove a legitimately injured accident survivor’s claim. All because of an innocuous post online, an injured accident victim who has incurred profound financial losses may lose their right to compensation.
Even posts that have been deleted by the social media user could come back to haunt them. Private investigators may take screenshots of all online updates shared by the claimant in an attempt to build a case against them and delegitimize their claim.
It is important to be aware of the fact that anything shared on social media in the aftermath of an injury-causing accident can be the subject of legal scrutiny. Defense lawyers and insurance companies are skilled at taking casual posts out of context, misconstruing their meaning, or even using them as proof that the aggrieved party is lying about their injuries.
Nearly 35 million Canadians are users of online social networks, making our country one of the world’s most connected online populations. However, the content we share online is not always reflective of the truth. Many users curate a more positive image of their life when on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Doing so, however, can lead to complications for those seeking compensation for damages in a personal injury claim.
Status updates from injured users expressing gratitude for the help of their family members and caretakers, photos of smiling patients in recovery, videos of injured claimants participating in even moderate physical activities, even inspirational quotes can be misconstrued to disprove an accident survivor’s claim. Even posts that the claimant has not shared themselves but have rather been tagged in by friends could be used as evidence and subject to similar scrutiny.
That is why, if you are involved in personal injury litigation, it is most advisable to discontinue your use of social media altogether. However, if find yourself unable to do so, taking the following precautions may benefit your claim:
- Do not discuss your claim or your injuries anywhere online
- Do not share photos or videos of your injuries
- Ask your friends not to take or share photos or videos of you on their own accounts (even if they do not tag you)
- Do not post selfies or videos of yourself
- Make your profile private and remove any users from your followers with whom you are not personally acquainted
- Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know
- Adjust your settings to ensure you have the strictest privacy measures in place
- And more
Even posts shared with the strictest of privacy settings, intended for only close friends and family, may still be presented as evidence in court. Therefore, being mindful about what personal information you’re sharing online and how your innocent posts might be misconstrued may help adjust your potentially consequential behaviour on social media.
The Impact of Surveillance on Personal Injury Claims
Surveillance evidence can have a significant impact on the outcome of a personal injury claim. If the evidence contradicts the claimant’s statements or medical reports, it can weaken the case and potentially lead to a reduced settlement or a dismissal of the claim altogether.
On the other hand, if the evidence gathered through various surveillance methods proves that an injured accident victim is, indeed, telling the truth, the submission of this evidence could help substantiate their claim. As such, this evidence might help an injured accident victim get the compensation they are rightfully owed.
When conducted within the bounds of legal and ethical guidelines, surveillance evidence can provide valuable insights into the veracity of a claimant’s statements and the extent of their injuries. That is why it is crucial for personal injury claimants to be aware of the potential use of surveillance and to understand their rights within this context.
Contact Us Today
Our Alberta personal injury lawyers have experience with the surveillance tactics often used by private investigators, insurance companies, and defense lawyers to try and undermine an accident survivor’s claim. By taking advantage of a free initial consultation with our personal injury lawyers serving Alberta, you could receive personalized advice and legal feedback on your case. To learn more about the ways in which we may be able to protect your rights and fight on your behalf for compensation, contact us today.