Do Auto Insurance Companies Hire Private Investigators to Spy on Crash Victims?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on May 5, 2022 and updated on May 27, 2022.

private investigator watching from carCrash victims may be surprised to discover insurance companies sometimes hire private investigators to find a reason to attack the victim’s credibility, reduce the value of the victim’s claim for compensation or deny the claim entirely.

Insurers do not do this for every claim, they usually only take this step for a claim that could potentially cost them a lot of money. They want to protect their profits and they are hoping the victim will make a mistake and allow the investigator to discover something incriminating.

Our experienced Maryland vehicle accident attorneys discuss car insurers hiring private investigators to follow crash victims and what they can and cannot do. You do have a right to privacy that limits what private investigators can do when they are trying to find information to use against you.

If you were injured in an auto accident that resulted from another driver’s negligent or reckless actions, give our firm a call. We may be able to help you seek the compensation you need during this difficult time.

Insurers Are Within Their Rights to Hire a Private Investigator

Spying makes many people uncomfortable, as their privacy is important to them. While you still have an expectation of privacy in some situations, private investigators have rights too. They can take pictures of you in public places. For example, they can take pictures of you on your way to work or coming home from work. They can check out your social media posts and look up public records about you.

Private investigators could uncover a significant amount of information by taking these steps. For example, they could get pictures that show you engaging in physical activity that is prohibited by your doctor, or simply activities that seem to contradict your claims about the severity of your injuries. Your social media accounts may show pictures of you looking healthy and in good spirits, which could hurt your credibility.

If you suffered a serious, long-term injury, these pictures and observations by the investigator could damage your claim.

What Are Private Investigators Prohibited From Doing?

They cannot invade your privacy to collect information about you. That means they cannot trespass onto private property, including your property to gather information or take pictures of you.

A private investigator is also prohibited from taking pictures of you through the windows of your home. That means an investigator cannot sit in his or her car on a public road or stand on public property and photograph you inside your private property.

Private investigators are also prohibited from:

  • Entering your home without you giving them permission
  • Placing a bug on your phone to listen to your conversations
  • Putting a tracking device on your car to watch where you go
  • Pretending to be someone else, such as a police officer or insurance agent
  • Obtaining unauthorized access to your social media accounts, email accounts or other electronic data – make sure you do not accept friend requests from people you do not know, as the investigator may make a friend request
  • Making physical threats
  • Making verbal threats

Protecting Your Claim From a Private Investigator

You may never spot a private investigator following you. Investigators know people may act differently if they know they are being followed, so they do not want to be spotted. That means you may never know for sure if the insurance company hired a private investigator.

However, you should still be cautious about the activities you engage in and the things you post on social media, as they could be used against you. You need to follow the doctor’s orders and avoid activities the doctor tells you to avoid, especially strenuous physical activities like:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Exercising
  • Lifting weights
  • Household chores, especially things you do outside like yardwork

If you do these activities in public, an investigator may be able to take pictures of you that could make it look like you are not injured or are not as injured as you think.

You may want to avoid going on vacation or at least not posting pictures or videos of you having fun on vacation. Even a picture of you smiling could be used by the insurance company to downplay the severity of your injuries.

If a private investigator has been assigned to your case, there are some things you can do that may strengthen your claim, such as going to the doctor. If the private investigator can only report that you have gone to doctor’s appointments and your home and that is about it, it will be hard for the insurance company to attack your credibility or the strength of your claim.

If you are doing your best to recover from your injuries and obeying the doctor’s treatment plan, there is not much to be concerned about from a private investigator.

It is generally best to stop posting on social media until your claim has concluded. No matter how private you may think your accounts are, insurance companies will work hard to gain access. You should also avoid deleting any old posts, as this makes it seem like you have something to hide.

Contact Peter T Nicholl for Experienced Legal Help

Your choice of an attorney is one of the most important decisions you need to make following an accident. You need an attorney who has taken on cases like yours in the past and has a track record of success. You also need an attorney who has the resources and legal knowledge to investigate and build a strong case. You want to be confident your case is in good hands.

The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl has been helping victims of another’s negligence for decades and has obtained billions in verdicts and settlements. We have the resources to manage every step of the legal process and are committed to seeking maximum compensation.

No Upfront Fees or Legal Obligations. Call today: 410-401-9979.