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Surveillance and Personal Injury Lawsuits

In New York, if you have a personal injury lawsuit, it's important to know that there is a significant chance that the defendant's representatives will put you under surveillance. While this usually occurs between the time of your deposition and the time of trial, it is something to be conscious of from the beginning of your claim through the end of your case.

This does not mean that you need to be paranoid about who might be watching you at any given moment once you have started your lawsuit. It simply means that you have to be honest when making claims regarding your injuries.

The importance of being honest when making your injury claims is pretty obvious. A film of a plaintiff who claims he can no longer play sports in the middle of a competitive basketball game could, not surprisingly, ruin his case. Even if a person has suffered significant and serious injuries that have placed real restrictions on what they can and cannot do, this type of video can very negatively effect credibility and, as a result, diminish the significance of any other claimed injuries.

Further, usually, the defendants' representatives will hire and utilize ex-detectives and security personnel, who have extensive backgrounds in investigations and surveillance. This heightens the importance of being honest, because even the most cautious plaintiff will not always know when they are being watched or filmed.

There are also not many restrictions on how the surveillance may be conducted. Although investigators are not allowed to break the law in their surveillance or contact the plaintiff directly, they can and will follow you almost anywhere public. This means that if you are anywhere in public you should be aware of the fact you may be being filmed by an investigator. While this means you should be free from surveillance within your home as they cannot trespass, your front lawn is likely fair game. In fact, it is very common for an investigator to begin filming you from the second you walk out the door.

While video surveillance is certainly an issue, and something that anyone with a lawsuit should take seriously, it's not always going to be bad for the plaintiff. Defendants cannot show up at trial and surprise a plaintiff with a surveillance video, they instead have to provide a copy of what they intend to introduce at trial before it starts. That means the plaintiff will have an opportunity to prepare for the presentation of the video and work an explanation of what's seen on the film into the case itself.

Regardless, the lesson here is simple, if you are involved in a lawsuit, make sure to be honest about your injuries and video surveillance will not be an issue for you. If you have any questions, or are interested in starting a personal injury lawsuit, please contact our office.

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