Surveillance: Why would someone really want to watch me?

Are insurance companies allowed to conduct surveillance on me?
This might come as a surprise to you, however, in the context of personal injury law, there are times when an insurance company will pay to have surveillance conducted on a plaintiff. This is actually not as uncommon as most may think, and the tactic is indeed permitted, and admissible, in a court of law. The video surveillance tape may be entered as evidence, and can be quite influential depending on the particular circumstances of the case. A number of decisions within the Canadian legal context have allowed for, and discussed, video surveillance. As a result, the tactic is unlikely to be curbed by the courts anytime soon.

Ok, so perhaps this is legal, but why would an insurance company want to conduct surveillance on me?
Put simply, surveillance is often used for two different reasons. Both of these reasons are, however, linked. The first reason insurance companies tend to use video surveillance is to determine, objectively speaking, the severity of the plaintiff’s limitations. Instead of relying on subjective reports of a plaintiff’s restrictions, or pain, the video would function as a factual representation of those limitations, which is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions.

This leads us directly into the second reason, which is heavily linked to the first. Essentially, the video evidence is often used to impeach the credibility of the plaintiff. Well, what does that mean? It means that the insurance company will allow the plaintiff to present his or her injuries during testimony in a court of law, or on discovery. Once the plaintiff has outlined his or her limitations, and difficulties, during their testimony, the defence will show the plaintiff a video which directly contradicts the picture the plaintiff has created. This allows the defense to argue that the narrative the plaintiff has presented is not factually true. In turn, the defence will argue that the plaintiff is not as limited as they make themselves out to be, and, if they have bent the truth once or twice, who is to say they have not done so at multiple points during their testimony? This would lead to an argument that the entirety of the plaintiff’s testimony cannot be trusted or believed.

What can I do to combat this?
As long as you’re honest about your situation, and limitations, surveillance will never be an issue. It’s an invasive procedure, however, as long as the picture you paint on discovery, or in court, falls in line with the video recording, your credibility will not suffer. You should, however, keep in mind that video evidence is often taken over a few days and does not depict the pain you feel after having conducted certain activities. Further, it is nothing more than a snapshot in time and may not represent the reality of the situation.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you are unsure what you can claim for, the legal team at Wagners can help you. You can reach us at 902-425-7330 or 1-800-465-8794.


Back to News & Insights