Bringing a Personal Injury Claim? Beware: The Eye In The Sky May Be Watching You

In Ontario, motor vehicle accident victims who bring lawsuits against negligent parties may be entitled to recover compensation for pain and suffering if they can prove that their injuries amount to a “serious and permanent impairment of an important mental physical and/or psychological function.”  This is known as the threshold test.

As a result, insurance companies defending these claims will sometimes choose to conduct surveillance on the person making the claim, hoping to catch them doing something inconsistent with what they claim they cannot do. This can be done through video surveillance, photographs, or simply written observations over a period of time.

If you make a personal injury claim, you must be aware that the insurance company on the other side has the right follow you at any given time to make the observations they need to make as it relates to your case. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for people starting personal injury claims to feel like their privacy has been “invaded” by private investigators hiding in the bushes across the street watching them like “Hawks” or following them to and from work.  However, the courts are generally of the view that by starting a personal injury claim, you have essentially waived certain privacy rights and have agreed to allow the insurance companies to collect the most reliable information required in order to defend the case.

Therefore, it is important to understand that throughout the litigation process, any statement you provide to the insurance company or its lawyers, whether verbal or written, can be used at some point to test your credibility.  For example, if you disclose that you are unable to participate in grocery shopping since your accident due to pain, or unable to shovel your driveway in the winter, this may invite the  insurance company to conduct surveillance on you in the hopes of catching you doing these activities, if they haven’t already. Therefore, it is extremely important to always be truthful in what you are reporting throughout the litigation process. Otherwise, you may fall into the surveillance trap.

Honesty is always the best remedy. Exaggerating your injuries and embellishing your level of impairment may come back to hurt your case. A good personal injury lawyer should be able to advise you on how to best avoid falling into this trap.

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