Can Insurance Companies Use Private Investigators to Deny Claims?

private investigatorIf you were injured in an accident and have begun the process of filing a third-party claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance company, there is something you should know. Liable insurance companies are always looking for any way to deny or devalue your claim.

They just need an excuse to attack your credibility and/or the credibility of your claim. One way they may look for an excuse is by hiring a private investigator to follow you around to see if you do anything that could be used against you.

Fortunately, there are legal limitations on what these hired sleuths can do. There are also steps you may be able to take to help protect the value of your claim, whether you are being watched by a private investigator or not.

Call our car crash lawyers in Charleston today to learn more about your rights and legal options following an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

What is the Purpose of the Private Investigator?

The sole purpose of having a private investigator follow an injury victim around is to try and gather evidence to prove the person did not suffer the damages they claim.

Because it is their job, private investigators are extremely knowledgeable in remaining out of sight to collect as much information on their subjects as possible. This means that most injury victims may not even be aware they are being watched.

In addition to following you around, these investigators tend to do some background research on you. They may look at:

  • Financial records – They want to see if you have a history of financial troubles that may give you a motive to exaggerate your injuries with the hope of recovering more compensation.
  • Social media – They want to see if you are posting photos on social media that show you participating in activities you claim you are unable to do because of your injuries.
  • Driving record – They want to know if you have a history of reckless driving that could strengthen the insurance company’s argument that you were at least partially at fault for the accident.

Is It Legal for Insurers to Hire Someone to Follow Me?

Insurance companies have a variety of tools at their disposal to help them combat liability claims. While hiring a private investigator may seem unethical, it is generally legal. These investigators are allowed to follow you to your home, work and other places. Private investigators may also take photos and videos of you.

Are There Limits to What Can Be Documented?

While private investigators do have the right to follow people around, there are also certain limitations as to what they can document.

Investigators must adhere to privacy laws, which means that they cannot wiretap you or record conversations with others that are meant to be private. For example, if you are speaking to a friend in the privacy of a home, the investigator may not eavesdrop or record that conversation, as there is an expectation of privacy within a home.

Investigators may not video record or photograph anything that happens inside your home through closed windows and shades. Additionally, protected information such as privileged conversations with your attorney or your medical records may not be accessed by a private investigator.

Private investigators must also adhere to property rights laws, which means that they cannot trespass on private property.

Impersonating law enforcement officers or pretending to be someone else is also against the law.  

Tips to Help Protect Your Claim

Since private investigators are tasked with proving that an accident victim is not as seriously injured as he or she claims, you are likely in the clear, so long as you are not exaggerating your injuries. A simple way to prove that you did suffer an injury is by following your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and steering clear of activities that may aggravate your injuries.

Another way to help protect your claim is to try and avoid posting about the accident or your injuries on social media, as you never know who may be able to access the information to use it against you.

If you are concerned about any preexisting injuries or conditions that you believe may affect your claim, you should strongly consider speaking to an attorney about it before making a decision on accepting an offer of compensation.

Call an Experienced Lawyer Today

Our attorneys have many years of combined experience helping injury victims protect and maximize their claims for compensation. We have successfully recovered millions on behalf of our clients and are prepared to help you.

We want you to have the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages. While compensation cannot change what happened, it can be vital as victims and their families look to move forward.

We offer a free consultation and charge you nothing while we work on your case, so there is no risk to you.