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In personal injury claims, the stakes are high. Insurance companies are often hesitant to pay the full amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries. To minimize your settlement, these companies might hire a private investigator (P.I.) to look for proof that you are exaggerating or being dishonest about your injuries and their impact.

Knowing how P.I.s might be used can help you understand your rights as well as how to deal with your situation effectively. Our South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm can safeguard your interests against these insurance company tactics and turn them to your advantage.

What Is a P.I.’s Role in a Personal Injury Case?

A private investigator is often hired to collect data on a specific individual. They must possess a valid license in South Carolina and are frequently used in personal injury cases by both the party bringing the suit and the party defending against it.

Insurance companies employ P.I.s to scrutinize the validity of claims to reduce payouts to injury victims. The following are some of what they might do to try and uncover evidence that raises doubt about the severity of the claimant’s injuries:

  • Conduct surveillance to monitor the claimant’s physical activities, looking for discrepancies between claimed injuries and actual abilities
  • Investigate the scene of the incident for inconsistencies or evidence that contradicts the claimant’s account
  • Interview witnesses and cross-reference statements to find discrepancies that could undermine the claim
  • Verify the details provided by the claimant to identify any exaggeration or falsification of information

What Are P.I.s Allowed and Not Allowed to Do?

P.I.s operate within strict legal boundaries that require them to use ethical techniques to gather information. While they are instrumental in uncovering crucial evidence, there are clear restrictions to what they can and cannot do in their investigations. These include:

 

Allowed Not Allowed
Conduct surveillance in public spaces Trespass on private property without consent
Search through public records and databases Wiretap phones or hack into personal electronic devices without a warrant
Gather information from social media and public online profiles Impersonate law enforcement or government officials
Interview willing witnesses and parties involved Obtain private information without a legitimate reason or legal permission
Take photographs and video recordings in public areas Engage in harassment or intimidation tactics
Verify the authenticity of documents and statements Break laws or engage in unethical practices to gather information

 

What Should You Do if You Suspect a P.I. Is Investigating You?

While it may feel invasive to be the target of an investigation, you cannot prevent an insurer from using P.I. services. However, you can take the following measures to safeguard your interests and prevent them from obtaining information that could hurt your claim:

  • Document Suspicious Activity: Keep a detailed record of any unusual occurrences or individuals you suspect may be monitoring you. This includes noting dates, times, locations, and descriptions of suspicious persons or vehicles.
  • Maintain Privacy Online: Use privacy settings on your social media accounts and avoid posting information that might undermine your claim, such as pictures of you engaging in physical activity if you have a back injury.
  • Follow Medical Advice: Follow all medical advice and attend every appointment. P.I.s may document your compliance with medical directives, which can support your claims by demonstrating the seriousness and impact of your injuries.
  • Consult Your Attorney: Inform your personal injury lawyer about your suspicions. Your Joye Law Firm attorney can provide guidance and take steps to protect your claim, including addressing illegal surveillance activities.
  • Continue Normal Activities: Continue your usual daily activities without changing your routine. Sudden changes might be misconstrued and used to challenge your claim.

When Might Your Attorney Hire a P.I.?

As part of a strong legal strategy, your attorney may hire a P.I. to bolster your case and counter the insurance company’s findings. Here’s what a P.I. working on your behalf can do to boost your claim:

  • Gather Evidence: If your case requires additional evidence to support your claims, a P.I. can help by collecting relevant information, photos, or videos.
  • Witness Location and Interviews: A P.I. can work to locate hard-to-find witnesses and conduct interviews that can provide critical insights and testimonies for your case.
  • Surveillance: Surveillance may be necessary to gather information against the other side that could benefit your case. For instance, surveillance can show that an insurance company’s P.I. violated your rights or uncover information that shows they fabricated or intentionally destroyed evidence. In a recent workers’ comp case, our client was falsely accused of misrepresenting his injuries after a P.I. took a photo of him buying a pipe at a local hardware store. The insurance company claimed the photo was proof that our client was still working. During a deposition, our client revealed he purchased the lightweight PVC pipe for his son whose pipes had burst and did not have a truck to transport it. Read the full story.
  • Asset Searches: For compensation claims, P.I.s can conduct asset searches to determine the defendant’s financial standing, helping you negotiate a fair settlement.

Obtain Experienced Representation for Your Personal Injury Case

Whether it was a slip and fall, auto accident, injury on the job or defective product injury, you deserve compensation if your injuries were caused by another’s careless actions. Our qualified attorneys at Joye Law Firm have protected client rights since 1968.

We can provide advice for dealing with a P.I. hired by the other party’s insurance company, and use this strategy on your behalf to maximize your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your case and get the settlement you deserve.

About the Author

Since 1968, the South Carolina personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys of Joye Law Firm have been committed to securing compensation for accident and injury victims. Our compassionate and dedicated lawyers have over 300 years of combined litigation experience, and many of them have been recognized as South Carolina Super Lawyers. For many years, our South Carolina personal injury law firm has been listed with an AV rating in the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell legal directory.

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