If you have an ongoing legal case where you’ve perhaps been hurt and want to recover damages, you have to be careful about your lifestyle. There’s a very real chance surveillance is going on to determine if you really are hurt and your claims are true.
If you’re used to living a luxurious lifestyle or even an especially active lifestyle, you might want to hold back a bit during ongoing litigation.
As the Gomez Trial Attorneys states, if you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you do have injuries, but they’re not necessarily impacting your ability to travel or do certain things, like working out or going skiing.
Is there a chance the insurance company working against you could hire a private investigator, uncover these activities, and it could derail your lawsuit? The answer is maybe.
The following are things to know about the potential for insurance companies to hire private investigators.
Do Insurance Companies Watch You?
If you’re living the high life in the midst of pending litigation, yes, in some cases an insurance company might be watching you. You have the remember the entire objective of an insurance company in these instances is to pay you as little as they possibly can.
Social media is a big way for insurance companies to see what you’re doing even without hiring a private investigator.
For example, if you post social media photos of a luxury Caribbean vacation, but you’re supposed to be injured after a car accident, it can be a problem. The insurance company can say you aren’t as injured as you were claiming to be.
Insurance adjusters can and do try to damage crash victims’ credibility, so think twice about living the big life until everything is settled and finished.
There is a wide range of monitoring options they can use, discussed below.
How Do Private Investigators Surveil Accident Victims?
It can seem intrusive and wrong that a private investigator would be treating you like a criminal after you were hurt in an accident, but again, you have to frame this from the insurance company’s perspective. Their only goal is to avoid paying or to pay as little as they can.
Private investigators may use the following tactics when surveilling accident victims.
- Electronic surveillance includes looking at your social media posts and scouring the internet for any other information that could be damaging to your case.
- Stakeouts are also called fixed surveillance. In these situations, an investigator might watch you from a particular location to see who you’re with and what you’re doing.
- The use of an unmanned device can track your activities from a particular location. Technically, this is known as stationary technical surveillance.
- An investigator might also be assigned to track you throughout your day, monitoring all of your activities.
It’s common for investigators to use a combination of these tactics so that they’re nearly always watching you.
Private investigators might be hired to look into all sorts of claims, including slip and fall, product liability, personal injury, disability insurance, and more.
While the insurance company ultimately doesn’t want to pay if they don’t have to, there are real instances of fraud they are trying to avoid.
Is It Legal?
It is generally speaking legal for a private investigator to follow you. As long as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, then there shouldn’t be a legal issue on the part of the investigator or the insurance company.
If evidence is collected in a public setting, it’s legally obtained in most cases.
Of course, there are limits on what private investigators can do.
For example, they can’t trespass onto your private property or go into your home without your consent. They can’t hack into your accounts or devices or put a tracking device on your vehicle.
They also aren’t allowed to impersonate a law enforcement official.
So what should you do if you’re worried you could find yourself in this situation?
Protecting Yourself from Private Investigators
If you’re in the middle of a lawsuit, you need to be careful and vigilant. You need to make sure that you’re mindful of what you’re doing when you’re in public and even working around your home.
If your treating doctor told you not to do a certain activity, then don’t, at least for the time being.
The more severe your injury, the higher the value of your case. In high-value cases involving potentially severe injuries, it becomes increasingly likely your insurance company would use a private investigator.
Know your rights in these situations, and if you aren’t sure, speak to your lawyer.
If you see someone trespassing, tell them to leave. If they won’t, you may need to get law enforcement involved.
You should also go over your social media accounts with a fine-tooth comb.
Limit your accounts to private settings or delete them altogether.
Think not just about what you’re posting on your own profiles, but what friends and family members might be posting about you. Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know.
If you have already been under surveillance and you’re worried about what the private investigator may have found out, a personal injury lawyer can work to minimize the impact.
Signs a Private Investigator is Watching You
What are some signs you’re being watched?
If you see the same car or persona behind you or near you repeatedly, take notice. If you can see a license plate, write it down so you’ll remember the next time. Does it look like there’s a car frequently hanging around your neighborhood?
Many private investigators will use similar types of cars such as sedans or vans that are neutral. They may have tinted windows. In some cases, private investigators may even use service vehicles.
If you’re in the midst of a legal case, just be very watchful about what’s going on around you and thoughtful of your actions. It can make a difference in whether or not you receive a substantial settlement.