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An investigator photographs a couple walking illustrating surveillance in major trauma injury claims

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The use of surveillance in major trauma injury claims

Tim Jones looks at how and when an insurance company may obtain video surveillance of the injured party to use as evidence in a personal injury claim.

If someone suffers major trauma injury, and brings a claim for damages against a third party (the defendant), the defendants insurance company may choose to obtain video surveillance of the injured party (the claimant) to use as evidence in the case. 

The purpose of obtaining video surveillance is to demonstrate that the injuries which the claimant claims to have sustained are being exaggerated or are simply untrue, and video evidence will usually flush out dishonest claims and quickly bring them to an end.

Circumstances that may cause a defendant to obtain surveillance

Defendant insurers may look out for statements such as ‘I can’t walk outside without a walking stick’ or ‘I can’t leave my house unaccompanied’, and such statements would be easy to disprove by using surveillance.  If more than one medical expert reports on the injuries, defendant insurers will also be looking for inconsistencies in the reports in relation to loss of function. 

Defendant insurers may also search for the claimant on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.  In a case before the Courts in 2015, the Judge remarked ‘like so many people nowadays, in particular those who seem minded to seek to perpetuate funds, the Claimant seemed incapable of keeping off the internet and sharing the true nature of his social activities through social media.’  If social media posts appear to contradict the injuries claimed, then surveillance evidence is likely to be obtained, or screenshots of the social media evidence submitted.

Should I be worried if surveillance evidence is obtained?

In a nutshell, so long as you are telling the truth about your injuries, no.  The vast majority of claimants are honest, but if surveillance is obtained, its important that it is dealt with correctly.

  • the entire unedited footage should be obtained and viewed; it may be that the video evidence was obtained over a period of days, and on one day the claimant was able to walk fairly freely unaided, but the exertion needed for that meant that they then were unable to leave their house for the following 3 or 4 days;
  • is the footage authentic?
  • if the claim is proceeding on the basis of a no win no fee agreement, with After the Event Insurance in place, then the insurer must be notified of the disclosed footage as this could have an implication on costs;
  • detailed instructions must be taken by the solicitor from their client, having reviewed the footage, is there an explanation?

The decision to proceed with a claim, following the disclosure of surveillance should be given careful consideration, if the case were to proceed to trial, and the surveillance was accepted and revealed the claimant had been dishonest about their injuries and the impact it had on their life, a finding of fundamental dishonesty could expose the claimant to costs sanctions, civil proceedings for contempt of court or even criminal proceedings.

Honesty is the best policy

It is vitally important that when bringing a claim for major trauma injury you are honest with your lawyer, treating doctors and medical experts about the extent of your injuries and the limitations those injuries cause to your life.  Claimants should not be tempted to exaggerate their injuries in the hope they can gain more financial compensation.

An investigator photographs a couple walking illustrating surveillance in major trauma injury claims
Surveillance in major trauma injury claims
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How Major Trauma Group can help

If you have suffered injury in an incident and wish to speak to a specialist solicitor about a potential claim, contact Major Trauma Group via email (hello@majortraumagroup.co.uk), telephone (0330 311 2578) or via live chat on our website (available Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm). 

The Major Trauma Group is a not-for-profit community interest company, made up of leading law firms from across the country who, together with clinicians, have pooled their knowledge and experience to assist major trauma victims and their families through the provision of legal advice and ancillary services.  Initial chats with our member solicitors, are free and without obligation.

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Who are the serious injury solicitors of Major Trauma Group, and how can they help me?

Who are the serious injury solicitors of Major Trauma Group, and how can they help me?

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