Surveillance and Social Media in Personal Injury Claims
When a Claimant brings a personal injury claim, the aim is to put them back in the same position that they were in before their accident as far as money is able to do so. In cases of severe injuries, this could mean insurers potentially having to pay out substantial sums of money and therefore they will take steps to ensure that they pay out the lowest amount possible.
This includes trying to undermine the evidence in the Claimant’s claim with the goal being to reduce the amount of compensation paid out or potentially avoid having to pay anything at all by successfully defending a claim.
One way of doing this is hiring an enquiry agent or investigator to follow the Claimant and film them going about their day to day activities such as going to the shops or attending appointments.
The idea of this is to try and catch a Claimant doing something that they have claimed that can’t do due to their injuries. For example, someone who says that they are unable to lift heavy items could be shown picking up a large shopping bag or someone who says they need a walking stick is filmed walking unaided thereby undermining the claim and the Claimant’s credibility.
Social Media – Think before you post!
Whilst surveillance is used on some cases, social media is becoming a much more common way for insurers to obtain evidence that they hope will undermine a claim for damages.
Posts on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram could be relied upon by insurance companies to defend a claim or as evidence of inconsistencies or even exaggeration and dishonesty.
An example of this would be if a picture was posted on social media of a Claimant standing at a music festival but they had previously claimed that they could not stand for very long due to their injuries or if a Claimant said they had not been drinking alcohol at the time of their accident but there was a picture of them from the day of the accident holding a drink.
You should bear in mind that even if you do not post anything yourself posts or comments my family members or friends could also be looked at.
This is not to say that you should not use social media at all whilst your claim is ongoing; it is a useful way of staying in contact with people particularly in a post-COVID world but it is important to think carefully about what you are posting and who is going to see it.
Consequences of being dishonest
Findings of exaggeration or fundamental dishonesty can have extremely serious consequences for Claimants. This includes the claim being thrown out in its entirety and proceedings being brought for contempt of Court which is punishable by a fine or a prison sentence and payment of legal costs which could be thousands of pounds.
Therefore, it is important that caution is exercised when posting on social media and you should not post anything that you would not want an insurance company to see.
Of course, the majority of Claimants have nothing to worry about as they have given a genuine and honest account of their injuries and the restrictions they face in their everyday activities, however it is important to be aware of this possibility.