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Jan 31

Surveillance in Personal Injury Claims - Are the Benefits Questionable?

Friday, January 31, 2014

There is the general perception amongst those who have personal injury claims and amongst the public at large that insurance companies regularly utilize the services of surveillance operatives to “check up on people” to ensure that they are not misrepresenting the significance of their injuries and disabilities.

In truth, it is far less common for insurance companies to utilize the services of surveillance operatives as the footage, more often than not, is somewhat useless unless the footage shows the individual regularly acting in a way that is inconsistent with what the person otherwise says they can and cannot do.

It is not uncommon for us to see current affairs programs showing the results of surveillance undertaken upon those who are deliberately misleading the likes of Centrelink or private insurance companies.  Such instances are quite rare.

Generally, an insurance company will not undertake any form of surveillance of an individual who has a personal injuries claim where:

  1. That injured person has returned to work since the accident;
  2. The symptoms recorded by the injured person are consistent with the injuries sustained in the accident;
  3. The injured person is making a genuine attempt to undertake all recommended forms of treatment;
  4. If the injured person is not working then he/she is shown to be making genuine attempts to find work or advance their prospects of securing work.

There are a number of red flags for insurers that might cause them to engage the services of surveillance operatives:

  1. A tipoff is received, more often from an anonymous source, indicating the injured person is working (when they say they can’t) or undertaking some form of physical activity inconsistent with their injuries;
  2. The symptoms recorded by the injured person are completely inconsistent with the injuries or are regularly overstated;
  3. The injured person asserts that they cannot do numerous things such as cook, drive a car, go shopping or mow the lawn when the injuries sustained are relatively minor.

Those who have claims as a consequence of injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of another person or business should not be concerned about the prospect of being subjected to periods of surveillance. The practice is not as regular as it once was, nor does it generate the valued or anticipated outcome expected to.

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