What is Personal Injury Surveillance?
What is personal injury surveillance?
Videotapes taken on behalf of a defendant, defense attorney or insurance company to help them defend their case.
Who is the subject of these tapes?
If you are the injured party, it is you. If you have submitted a claim or started a lawsuit claiming that you hurt your back, for example, the insurance companies and defense attorneys would love to have a video of you shoveling snow to show to the jury. Basically this allows them to call you a liar and persuade the jury not to award any damages.
How do they get these tapes?
They hire private detectives who will sit somewhere within videotaping distance of your home, usually in a van. They will sit there for hours just hoping to catch you walking out of your house carrying sometime heavy like trash cans or shoveling snow or mowing the lawn. Some of these investigators have been known to leave money on the sidewalk and then photograph you when you bend over to pick it up. The videotape goes to the defendant's attorney before your deposition is taken. Then during your deposition, the attorney can ask you an innocent question like "Well, of course, with your back injury, you do not shovel snow, right?" If you do not answer truthfully or forget about the 30 seconds you shoveled after the last blizzard, your case is pretty much over.
What does this mean to the plantiff?
It is important to remember that if you are suing someone for personal injury, he or she has the right to find and use any evidence he or she can find that questions whether you are really injured. Although most states require that your attorney eventually be provided with copies of the tapes, often they need not be produced until after you have either been deposed or testified at trial. Although investigators are not allowed to look in your windows, if you are doing something in public, and that includes your front step or your backyard, they are allowed to videotape it. If you believe you are, or have been, videotaped, it is important to let your attorney know as soon as possible so that he or she can demand to see copies of all videotaped surveillance.