If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, the road forward is difficult enough. You’re likely experiencing mounting medical expenses – in the face of lost wages and the pain and suffering you’ve been forced to endure. All told, it’s a lot, and if the at-fault party’s insurance company is balking at covering your related losses, the matter is that much more difficult. Now, imagine that the insurance company is using a private investigator in an attempt to deny or diminish your personal injury claim. This should give you a pretty good idea about the lengths some insurance companies will go to in order to keep their profits high. Help protect your personal injury claim by reaching out to an experienced Austin personal injury law firm today.
What’s In This Guide
- Do Insurance Companies Use Private Investigators?
- How Legal Is it?
- Common Practices
- What They’re Looking For
- Crossing a Line
- Protecting Your Claim
Do Insurance Companies Use Private Investigators?
If you find yourself wondering do insurance companies use private investigators, there’s no need to investigate further. The sad truth is that they sometimes do, especially for larger claims. This means that when you are at your most vulnerable, the insurance company that is supposed to compensate you fairly for your losses (or legal damages) could have a private investigator watching your every move in an effort to discredit your claim. It’s a lot to take in, but it helps to shine a lot on just how far the insurance company may be willing to go in its profit-seeking efforts.
How Legal Is it?
If the idea of having a private investigator digging into your life after you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence unsettles you, you’re not alone. The fact of the matter is, however, that the insurance company is within its legal rights to do so (as long as it stays within certain parameters). The kind of investigation that is generally involved amounts to digging deeper into the claimant’s life, background, and current activities. Insurance fraud is neither appropriate nor legal, but if you are simply doing the best you can after being injured in an accident that was caused by the negligence of the insurance company’s policyholder, having someone snooping around in an attempt to catch you doing something that the insurance company deems suspect amounts to a slap in the face.
While the insurance company’s private investigator can’t get too invasive, the kinds of practices they generally engage in include the following:
- Digging into your social media accounts, including your profiles and posts
- Following you at a distance when you’re going about your life in public and taking pictures along the way for good measure
- Doing research into your public records
- Monitoring your professional profiles and business activities, such as your résumé and credentials on LinkedIn
- Reaching out to your neighbors, coworkers, supervisor, and/or customers or clients (depending upon your occupation)
- Digging for a criminal record
The age of smartphones and 24/7 social media interactions have opened up a whole new world for insurance companies, and they are not afraid to take full advantage of the wide range of information that is available to them.
What They’re Looking For
Once you recognize that insurance companies engage in these practices, it’s only natural to wonder what in the world they are looking for and how it relates to your claim. The bottom line is that the insurance company is using the private investigator to find out anything about your life that does not jibe with the claim you’ve filed. They are hoping to show that you’re exaggerating about the extent of your injuries and/or the degree to which these injuries affect your life.
Let’s say that your personal injury claim includes a back injury. In this situation, the private investigator will be on the lookout for any instance in which you are lifting more than a few pounds or engaging in any sort of activity that requires a healthy back. For example, if there’s a picture on Facebook that depicts you joyously lifting your toddler nephew, that could be a problem. Further, if the PI snaps a picture of you on the job lifting something heavier than you should, it can come back to haunt you – and your personal injury claim.
Protecting Your Health and Your Claim
An important point to make is that the best way to protect your health and well-being after being injured by someone else’s negligence is by following your doctor’s instructions and advice to the letter. In other words, by protecting your health and well-being, you are also protecting your claim, and there will be nothing of interest for the private investigator to find.
Crossing a Line
There are certain activities that cross a legal line and that private investigators, therefore, can’t engage in, including:
- Taking photos of you through the windows of private property
- Wiretapping your phone
- Trespassing on your property or any other private property you are on
- Impersonating a police officer or pretending to be someone they’re not in an effort to get close to you
- Obtaining information that is protected, such as your private medical information, without first obtaining the necessary consent
When private investigators are at the top of their game, they go unnoticed, which allows them to capture more extensive and more candid information that can hurt your claim if you’re not on the up and up. It’s important to note, however, that some insurance companies are not above twisting the information gathered by PIs to support their own theories, regardless of how honest your claim is.
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Protecting Your Claim
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you protect your claim from the insurance company’s prying techniques, including:
- Giving social media a pass until your claim is finalized
- Minding your p’s and q’s, which includes carefully following your doctor’s advice and putting your health and recovery first
- Allowing your experienced personal injury attorney to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Make the Call to an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Attorney Today
The knowledgeable Austin personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm are well positioned and well prepared to help you defend your legal rights – in pursuit of your claim’s most beneficial conclusion. Learn more about how we can help by contacting or calling us at 361-400-2036 today.