It is becoming increasingly common for the Insurers of Defendants to hire Private Investigators to follow and film Claimants who allege they have suffered serious injuries and are seeking to recover large sums of money by way of compensation.
This is especially so where the injured person may have a painful back or neck which is preventing them from pursuing hobbies, lifting, exercising or working. Those injuries are not straightforward to diagnose if there is no fracture and MRI scans are not always conclusive.
We believe that it happens routinely in serious injury cases as it is relatively cheap for insurers to obtain footage from private investigators and on the rare occasions where they find evidence of the injured person doing things that they have claimed to be incapable of doing (such as working, pursuing hobbies, walking without a limp or exercising by way of example) it will save them many thousands of pounds in compensation payments.
In some cases, if it is clear from the film that the Claimant has lied about or consciously exaggerated their level of disability, a Court may find them not only to have been fundamentally dishonest (in which case they may well lose the whole claim and be liable for the legal costs of both sets of lawyers) and to be in contempt of Court which can lead to criminal charges, fines and imprisonment.
Consequently, those of us who act for seriously-injured claimants are spending more time watching films of our clients than ever before. Some films are long and boring, some are funny and some worrying and upsetting.
We believe that Insurers are absolutely right to check up on Claimants as they occasionally catch out those who grossly exaggerate their symptoms to inflate their claims. It is also sadly not uncommon to find evidence that claimants are obviously working, usually for cash in hand, whilst alleging that their injuries are preventing them from making a living for the purposes of their claims.
The cameras are usually cleverly concealed and I have seen clients filmed in many different locations including their homes, their places of work, hospitals, shops and even at a football match.
Some years ago, we 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 which included heavy sacks of spuds.
In another film a client was seen to be walking normally until he appeared to spot the camera and then developed one of the most exaggerated limps we have ever seen. John Cleese would have been proud of him. On another occasion a client was being filmed in a supermarket when security spotted the cameraman and ejected him from the premises.
Video evidence may be used in Court if it has been disclosed to the opponent either before a deadline imposed by the Court or if there is an Order specifically allowing it to be adduced as evidence by a Judge.
Happily, many films we see prove that our clients are absolutely genuine and the video evidence is used as a bluff by the Insurers. They will often say they have video evidence and then suggest that our clients should accept low offers. We normally ask to see the film which usually turns out to be of the client walking slowly, carefully and in obvious pain whilst avoiding any heavy lifting, bending or stretching.
Occasionally we have to watch documentary-length films as the Investigators follow clients for hours trying to catch them out without success.
Those injured in accidents should always be truthful and be aware that they probably will be followed and filmed if they bring high value claims.
If you have would like some advice then call our expert Solicitors on 0114 218 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.