The Personal Injury Blog

Caught on Camera? Being filmed by private detectives in personal injury cases.


For many years now, Insurers have been hiring Private Investigators to follow and film Claimants who allege they have suffered serious injuries and are claiming large sums. This is especially so where the injured person alleges that they have a painful back or neck which is preventing them from working, lifting or pursuing hobbies. Those injuries are not easy to diagnose if there is no fracture so a Medical Expert will rely on the history given by the victim and a clinical examination, which may not always be 100% accurate.

Personally, I think the Insurers are absolutely right to check up on Claimants as there have been many notable examples of people who have grossly exaggerated their symptoms to inflate their claims. It is also sadly not uncommon to find that claimants are working, usually for cash in hand, whilst alleging that their injuries are preventing them from making a living.

The cameras are normally concealed and clients have been filmed in many different situations including going to medical examinations, taking their kids to school, at their places of work, in hospitals, shops and even attending a Sheffield United match at Coventry. Normally clients have no idea that they have been filmed.

One of my colleagues acted for a man who claimed that he was no longer able to work because of a back injury. His claim was drastically reduced after he was filmed answering his front door to a bogus caller who told him he had won some groceries in a prize draw. He was then seen to be happily walking up and down steps and carrying his “winnings” into the house including heavy sacks of spuds.

In another film one of our clients was seen to be walking normally until he appeared to spot the camera and then developed one of the most exaggerated limps I have ever seen. John Cleese would have been proud of him.

Video evidence may be used in Court if it has been disclosed well before the Court hearing.

Happily, most films I see prove that my clients are absolutely genuine and the evidence is used as a bluff by the Insurers. They will often say they have film evidence and then suggest that our client should accept a low offer. We always ask for the film and on review, it usually turns out to be of the client walking slowly, carefully and in obvious pain whilst avoiding any heavy lifting, bending or stretching. Normally, we are able to settle those claims very favourably after calling the opponents’ bluff and their films actually support our case!

Occasionally I have watched epic-length films after Investigators followed clients for hours trying to catch them out without success. It is a bit like watching a thriller where you don’t know if the outcome will be good or bad for you client’s case. I have sat for hours, glued to the screen of my PC waiting for the client to do something they have claimed to be incapable of doing, only to be pleased that they haven’t! It’s not often you watch a film for over 2 hours and are glad at the end that it was boring and uneventful!

I won’t be watching films this weekend, but will be attending a family reunion in Oxford. With any luck we’ll see Inspector Lewis arresting an intellectual murderer!

Enjoy your weekend

Jonathan Stittle







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