When Do Insurance Companies Use Private Investigators?
It doesn’t make sense for an insurer to hire a private investigator for every claim. After all, hiring an investigator is expensive, and it will only be worth it if the investigator finds something that will save the insurance company a significant amount of money. If your injuries are relatively minor or you are likely to heal without long-term complications, it makes more sense for an insurer to pay your claim than to spend money refuting it.
On the other hand, insurance companies may hire a private investigator to conduct video surveillance when:
- They think the victim is not being truthful. If an insurance company has reason to suspect that a person is exaggerating his or her injuries, they may hire an investigator to follow the victims during their daily activities. A person claiming to have severe back injuries becomes less credible if there is a video of him lifting a bag of groceries or stooping to pick up a child when he is supposed to be recovering.
- The claim is for a significant amount. It may be cheaper for the insurer to fight a claim rather than pay out for permanent injuries or extensive losses. An investigator’s video or photos of a victim doing even minor tasks (such as walking a dog or driving a car) could devalue a case if the victim claimed to be completely disabled by the injury.
- The effects of the injury are difficult to verify. Some injuries are fairly straightforward from diagnosis to recovery. For example, doctors and insurers can see a broken arm on an x-ray, know that casting the arm is usually effective, and can estimate the costs of treatment fairly accurately. However, some injuries can be more difficult to predict, and are not as easy to prove with medical evidence. Back injuries, head injuries, and neck injuries are all known to cause symptoms that vary from patient to patient.
- The case is going to trial. If the insurer and the victim cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case may go into litigation. In these cases, the insurer will need all the evidence it can get, so it is often worth the cost to hire an investigator.
Don’t Give an Insurer a Reason to Deny Your Injury Claim
If you are honest about the extent of your injuries, you will probably not have to worry about an investigator following you to gather evidence. With that said, there are other actions you can take that will give an insurer some ground to reduce the value of your claim. To give your claim the best chance of success, make sure that you:
- Stay off of social media. Insurers do not need to hire a private eye to get evidence against you: they only need to check your social media sites. Posting on social media after an injury is more likely to hurt than help your case, so it is best to avoid posting on your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and Yelp accounts until your claim is settled.
- Follow your doctor’s advice. If you follow all of your doctor’s treatment and rehabilitation orders, you will not have to worry about what information the insurer has gathered about you. Limiting your activities and staying within the restrictions set by your doctor at all times allows you to avoid explaining to an insurer that you felt good enough to go fishing one day, but spent the next week recovering from pushing yourself too hard.
- Inform your attorney of any suspicious activity. Most investigators are able to observe victims without arousing suspicion. However, if you think you are being watched, do not engage with the investigator or exaggerate your injuries. Go about your business and act normal, and report the incident to your attorney.
At The Champion Firm, P.C., our personal injury attorneys are well aware of the strategies insurance companies use to deny, underpay, and delay claims. If you are suffering due to an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, fill out the contact form on this page today so we can advise you on how to get the best possible result. Our Georgia injury attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, so you will not owe us anything if you don’t recover compensation as a victim after an accident, it does not happen very often. However, there are other ways an insurance company can gather evidence against injury victims that can be just as damaging as video surveillance.