Watch Out for Video Surveillance

When a personal injury claim is made, the job of the person evaluating the claim is to determine if the claim has merit and if so, decide how much to pay. Usually, this decision is made by an insurance adjuster. By nature, insurance adjusters are sceptical people. Often, they do not believe personal injury victims are hurt as badly as they claim.

One of the tools available to an insurance adjuster that is sceptical about someone that alleges they suffered personal injuries is video surveillance. Basically, the insurance adjuster hires a private investigator to follow the injured person around and video tape anything incriminating. Most of us look at this as an extreme invasion of privacy. The investigators often camp out side houses; peer through windows with high powered cameras; and follow where ever you go by car or on foot. Sometimes they do capture people doing things they claim they cannot do. Most of the time, however, their surveillance film is hours of personal and at times intimate moments from the persons life.

The courts, see nothing wrong with any of this activity. This type of snooping is allowed because when you file a lawsuit you put your credibility at issue. That means the defense is allowed to try and prove that your claims of injury are not true. Video surveillance can do this in a powerful way.

Does this mean that personal injury clients should hide like a hermit locked in their house with all of their windows closed never to venture outside until their claim is resolved. Or worse yet should they just not bring their claim for fear of being watched. Of course not. That is just what the defense wants.

Instead, follow two simple instructions. First, just think before you act. Put yourself in the position of a potential juror that does not know you. Would that potential juror think doing the particular activity you were about to engage in was inconsistent with your claim of injury. If so, simply do not do it.

Second, accurately describe your activities when asked. If you can perform an activity but it hurts, then say that. Only say you cannot do an activity if you never do it. The distinction may seem trivial but it is not. Defense attorneys love to try and take advantage of clients that do not understand the difference. For example, a client that injured their back in a car accident in Tampa may be asked under oath at a deposition if they can bend over. The client may say no because bending over hurts and therefore they rarely do so. The client is not lying. They were just not clear in their answer. Unfortunately it is too late to try and explain the difference later when a video surveillance is produced that was taken before the deposition showing the client bending over. The defense lawyer will use the video to claim the client was lying about not being able to bend over


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Distasio Law Firm