Tread Carefully: Secrets to Surviving Surveillance in Compensation Claims
- If you are pursuing or thinking of seeking compensation arising out of a personal injury claim then it’s important to recognise you may be under surveillance.
- Surveillance is a tactic that defendant’s insurers can undertake to undermine your claim particularly if your injuries are serious.
- If the defendant’s insurers are successful in obtaining surveillance that is harmful to your claim then it’s possible your claim could be spectacularly derailed. It could even lead to a finding of fundamental dishonesty and an order to pay the Defendant’s costs.
- In this article we highlight the potential pitfalls when it comes to covert surveillance carried out by the defendant’s insurer using selective filming methods.
- We provide you with knowledge and tactics – in short the Secrets to surviving surveillance in compensation claims.
Secrets to Surviving Surveillance in Compensation Claims: What You Need to Know
Similar to most personal injury solicitors who represent people who have suffered serious injuries, we have received surveillance filmed by defendant private investigators .
It’s common knowledge that Defendant’s insurers look to scrutinise the daily activities and behaviours of Claimants by using investigators to carry out physical surveillance possibly over long periods.
The aim is to try to uncover inconsistencies with the medical experts or any accounts given by the Claimant in support of their claim and to demonstrate that the Claimant is exaggerating their injuries.
Striking the Balance between Privacy and Justice
Although surveillance has become more common in recent times it is usually unsuccessful in undermining personal injury cases. Very often there will be nothing to see except footage that is consistent with a genuine claimant simply going about their daily business.
Nevertheless obtaining video surveillance by the insurance company remains a controversial approach which the defendant’s insurers try to justify. They say it protects fairness and the legitimacy of the legal system resulting in only the genuine claimants receiving the compensation they deserve in accordance with the principles set out in the Human Rights Act.
It’s true surveillance of the Claimant and their private life which even involves filming at their private property throws up some real ethical and legal questions surrounding a person’s entitlement to privacy.
There is a real balance to be struck between protecting privacy and upholding the Human Rights Act 1998 and a Claimant’s accountability to public authorities.
When do Insurers look to Obtain Video Surveillance Evidence?
The defendant’s insurance company often looks to deploy video surveillance evidence to test and cast doubt on the Claimant’s evidence such as the medical evidence or accident related witness statements.
In the past this has tended to involve suspected fraudulent claims where there are serious injuries and significant financial awards being claimed. In recent times insurers have started to instruct surveillance operatives even in relation to the lower value injury claims where they suspect there might be fraud or exaggeration.
Insurance companies collect surveillance evidence in the context of a whole range of personal injury actions including those involved in road traffic accidents, workplace accidents or slip and fall accident claims.
If the insurer suspects the Claimant is not as seriously injured as they maintain, and suspect fraud, then they see if they can obtain video evidence that is inconsistent with the Claimant’s own witness evidence about their injury, physical limitations and daily life.
Surveillance evidence is also obtained in circumstances where the insurer wants to catch out the Claimant participating in activities that according to the medical evidence they can’t undertake.
It’s always a practical consideration for the Claimant’s solicitors to point out at the start of the action that surveillance might be carried out by the insurers in an effort to undermine the Claimant’s credibility.
When is the Defendant Allowed to use Surveillance Footage?
- In reality when defendant’s insurers seek to rely on convert observation video footage taken, then unless the Claimant agrees, it will be necessary for the defendant to make a formal application to adduce such evidence.
- The court has the power to control evidence and in certain circumstances may choose to exclude evidence in personal injury claims.
- The court then has to decide whether the video evidence is admissible and make its overall decision in a way that represents a fair outcome for both parties.
- In practice this means that it is necessary for the court to cross-reference the surveillance evidence with the statements of case to see whether there are real inconsistencies which undermine the claim.
- If so the court needs to determine that it is in the interests of justice to allow the video observation evidence to be adduced.
- Over the years case law seems to demonstrate that regardless of the means by which video surveillance has been obtained, including even using underhand tactics such as visiting the Claimant’s property, its admissibility hinges on its relevance to the issues at hand.
Handling Surveillance Evidence and Challenging Admissibility
It’s never a great time when a Claimant solicitor receives surveillance DVD as this usually means the Defendant believes they have recorded evidence which is going to undermine the Claimant’s claim.
When presented with surveillance evidence it is important that the lawyer offers essential emotional support to their client, the injured person, who is likely to be shocked at the prospect of covert filming having taken place. This will be especially true if there has been an attempt to covertly film at the Claimant’s property and even gain access to the Claimant’s home.
Whilst it’s important to live your life in a way that you want to, be careful about participating in activities that could be misinterpreted or taken the wrong way. If you believe that you are being filmed then you should consult with your solicitor straightaway.
Normally the defendant is in a position to hold onto the surveillance evidence until such time that the Claimant’s witness statement has been served. However, case law confirms surveillance evidence should not be disclosed late in the day in an effort to ambush the Claimant.
Protecting Your Credibility when Surveillance Evidence is Served
- If and when surveillance evidence has been served on the Claimant’s solicitor then it is very important to ensure that the whole footage is considered in detail by you and your solicitor.
- In our experience our client will often have a good explanation in relation to any surveillance evidence that has been served.
- It’s usually possible for the appointed medical expert to explain away any potential inconsistencies contained within the footage and by adding context there is often no harm done to the Claimant’s credibility.
- It’s also important that your solicitor ensures the defendant discloses the entire edited and unedited footage, with accompanying logs.
- This will enable your solicitor to establish whether the original footage disclosed had been edited appropriately and not in a way to provide a misleading picture of the overall position.
- On occasions after full disclosure of the surveillance evidence it will be necessary to look at the edited and unedited footage by reference to a video evidence expert who will comment in relation to any irregularities or discrepancies in the footage. This can be a way of discrediting the video surveillance evidence.
Misunderstandings of Activities: From a Fleeting Moment
The difficulty with video surveillance evidence for the medical expert is that on many occasions it records just isolated instances without necessarily including their contextual background.
For instance an everyday action such as lifting up a shopping bag could be treated as proof of complete physical ability and this in turn can have an effect upon how the injuries are perceived by medical experts.
It’s important to recognise that any surveillance evidence which is disclosed may therefore not provide an accurate picture of a particular event, the Claimant’s injury or an individual’s overall condition or limitations.
It follows the personal injury solicitors task is to explore the precise circumstances surrounding these isolated moments so that a comprehensive understanding of the true capabilities of the individual can be deduced. This approach is necessary to ensure that there is a fair and accurate assessment of the surveillance operatives evidence.
If the defendant’s insurers submit surveillance footage as evidence, make sure that you provide context so you can explain your actions and any misconceptions that may arise from the unedited footage itself.
It is only once the time consuming review of the unedited footage has been undertaken and instructions from the Claimant have been obtained that practical considerations such as the need for any joint statements from the parties medical experts should be sought.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Secrets to Surviving Surveillance in Compensation Claims
Q: What is the use of surveillance in the context of a Injury Claim?
A: When bringing a claim it is possible for the defendants insurer to instruct private investigators to obtain video evidence to record the claimant’s activities with a view to undermining their personal injury claim.
Q: What’s the purpose of defendant insurers using surveillance when dealing with personal injury cases?
A: The objective is to get such evidence needed to establish whether the Claimant’s injuries and daily activities are accurate. If they can obtain video evidence which contradicts the version of events given then this will cast doubt on whether this is a genuine claimant’s case and in turn can have a serious impact on the compensation award.
Q: Can surveillance footage be used against me even though I’m oblivious to the circumstances of the recording being made?
A: Yes, footage can be used in evidence in legal or court proceedings irrespective of your knowledge.
Q: When do insurers obtain evidence of video surveillance in personal injury claims?
A: Insurers tend to instruct a surveillance operative when there is serious trauma involved in compensation claims or alternatively if fraudulent claims are suspected. The insurers are effectively trying to check out the voracity of the compensation claim and the extent of the accident related damage. If the insurers are successful in their challenge of the Claimant’s credibility then the court may substantially reduce or even extinguish the Claimant’s award.
Q: What are the possible results if surveillance evidence is served in a personal injury claim?
A: Surveillance evidence can have little or no consequences on the compensation claim if it is deemed to be neutral or supportive. However if the evidence is harmful or damaging to the claim it could lead to a reduction or even total obliteration of the compensation award, a finding of fundamental dishonesty as well as cost penalties and even a loss of liberty!
It’s important that you take on board this article and the Secrets to Surviving Surveillance in Compensation Claims.
Put Our Expertise to Work for You
The world of personal injury claims can be complex, challenging and daunting, especially when you find yourself under the scrutiny of surveillance.
At Carter and Carter Solicitors we understand the intricacies of claims involving surveillance and are dedicated to providing you with the support and expertise you need. Our unwavering commitment to your cause is the cornerstone of our practice.
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Meet the Author
Chris Carter is the founder and Director of Carter & Carter Solicitors, a leading personal injury law firm based in the UK.
With over 25 years of experience in the field of personal injury litigation Chris has become a trusted expert in his industry.
Throughout his extensive career, Chris has remained steadfast in his commitment to helping injury victims secure rightful compensation. His track record is a testament to his expertise, consistently achieving favourable outcomes for clients
Chris’s dedication to aiding others shines through every case he and the C&C Solicitors team handle. They go the extra mile, providing unwavering support and guidance during challenging times.
Discover more about Chris and the team at C&C Solicitors, and the legal services they offer, please visit www.candcsolicitors.co.uk/about-us/ or call the team on 01663 761890
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