Am I Being Watched? Surveillance in Personal Injury Cases

By Peter DePaolis

You got hurt in an accident and filed a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. Now, you wonder if you are becoming paranoid or if someone is actually following or watching you. You might wonder if it is legal for the insurance company or defendant to perform surveillance of you while you have a pending claim.

A Maryland personal injury attorney can advise you on your legal rights and how to protect yourself from unlawful surveillance, as well as help you seek compensation in your personal injury case. Let’s take a look at the question, Am I being watched? Surveillance in personal injury cases.

Do Insurance Companies Perform Surveillance of Personal Injury Plaintiffs?

Yes. Insurance companies hire people to work full-time as investigators on pending personal injury claims. It might seem like a bad Hollywood movie, but insurance companies do use investigators on a regular basis.  

There are so many fraudulent insurance claims filed every year by people who claim to have catastrophic injuries but did not actually suffer a single scratch, that insurance companies have a legitimate business interest in investigating claims. The law does, however, impose some limitations on how far the investigator can go and what constitutes an illegal invasion of privacy. 

The Legal Boundaries of Insurance Claim Investigations

If you are in a public space, an insurance investigator can likely follow you, take still photographs or video recordings, or watch you. For example, if you go to the grocery store, work out at the gym, work at a job that involves dealing with the public, or go for a walk on a public sidewalk or on public property, an investigator could surveil you. Of course, if the surveillance crosses the boundaries and becomes harassment or stalking, your personal injury lawyer could step in and make recommendations.

There are specific laws that apply to audio recordings, as opposed to still photographs or video recordings. For this reason, most insurance investigator evidence is of a visual nature, rather than a sound recording.

Insurance company surveillance is not allowed in private spaces, like inside your home or where a person would have an expectation of privacy. Other private spaces where insurance companies usually are prohibited from surveilling include a private office, a public restroom, the locker room at the gym, and other private locations. The insurance investigator might talk to your neighbors, coworkers, and members of your family and ask them questions about you. 

What to Do if You Think You Are the Subject of Surveillance

You should notify your personal injury attorney right away if you think that someone is following or investigating you when you have a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit pending. Sometimes, investigators go too far in trying to capture evidence to impress their boss. Your lawyer can deal with that situation on your behalf. You should not get confrontational with the investigator.

It is best to act normally during surveillance as if you’re not aware that it is happening. You do not want to give the defendant the opportunity to capture photos of you looking angry, defensive, or exaggerating your injuries. None of those representations will look good to the jury. No one enjoys being followed and having people take photos or videos of them without their consent in public, and you might be trying to protect your children from having their privacy invaded, but the investigator might be “baiting” you to get a photo that portrays you in an unflattering light. 

A Maryland personal injury attorney can help you go after the money damages you deserve if you got hurt in an accident that was someone else’s fault. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.