Surveillance after an accident is a real possibility. Insurance companies use surveillance investigators to video or picture plaintiffs (i.e., accident victims making claims) as part of their investigation process. The purpose is to determine if a plaintiff is as hurt and disabled as he or she claims to medical professionals.
Surveillance is an attempt to catch a plaintiff in a lie. For example, the plaintiff may tell her doctor that she is too hurt from the accident to perform activities like going to the gym or grocery shopping. The doctor will include the plaintiff’s allegations in medical reports. Insurance companies, when seeing these allegations, may hire a surveillance company to video the plaintiff outside of her home to see if she is lying.
This tactic is 100% legal in Louisiana. Once you leave your home and enter the public domain, you loose your right to privacy—that is, others may photograph or video you secretly. The pictorial record created can be used at trial to show a judge and jury that a plaintiff is not as hurt as reported in medical records. Moreover, surveillance footage can be used to “impeach” a plaintiff—that is, as a tool to catch the plaintiff in a lie when testifying.
When testifying the defendants may ask the plaintiff what activities he or she can no longer perform. The plaintiff will be forced to commit to an answer before viewing surveillance footage. If the plaintiff lies about his or her post accident activities, the judge and jury will be shown video surveillance that discredits the plaintiff. This type of evidence is damning.
Other types of surveillance footage can be obtained by subpoena and similarly used in court. For instance, if a plaintiff is a member of a 24-hour gym and testifies in deposition that he ceased working out after the accident, the defendants may subpoena attendance records from the gym, including video surveillance. If the surveillance shows the plaintiff weight lifting, the defendants have caught the plaintiff in a lie. The deposition testimony and surveillance footage will be used in court to attack the plaintiff’s credibility.
After an accident, I do not expect my clients to stop living their lives. But I do expect them to be honest about their activities. I tell them to assume that they are being videoed when they are outside their homes in public. Furthermore, they are more likely to be subject of surveillance once a lawsuit is filed.
The rule of thumb is that if you are representing that you are too hurt/disabled to do something, you should not be doing it. This is important for two reasons: (1) To do something you are too hurt to do may result in an exacerbation of injury; and, (2) If you are caught doing something you have testified that you do not do, you will perjure yourself and harm your case. Be honest with your doctors and attorneys.
If you have been injured in an accident and have questions about starting a personal injury claim, contact Law Office of Donald D’Aunoy Jr., LLC today for a FREE consultation: 1000 Veterans Blvd #203, Metairie, LA 70005, Phone: 504-508-6414. Speak directly with an attorney. Attorney Donald D’Aunoy Jr. offers FREE house calls to personal injury clients throughout southeast Louisiana, including Algiers, Amite, Avondale, Barataria, Belle Chasse, Bogalusa, Boutte, Bridge City, Chalmette, Covington, Crown Point, Cut Off, Destrehan, Edgard, Franklinton, Galliano, Gretna, Hammond, Harahan, Harvey, Houma, Jefferson, Kenner, Lafitte, Laplace, Lacombe, Larose, Luling, Lutcher, Madisonville, Mandeville, Marrero, Morgan City, Montegut, New Orleans, Nine Mile Point, Norco, Patterson, Pearl River, Ponchatoula, Prairieville, Raceland, River Ridge, Slidell, St. Rose, Thibodaux, Tickfaw, Waggaman, Westwego. Mr. D’Aunoy is well reviewed on sites such as Avvo and Facebook.