Can the Other Side in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit Conduct Surveillance on Me?
One thing that does not occur to many personal injury claimants when they have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence is the possibility that, as a part of preparing for trial or litigation in a personal injury case, the other side may do extensive background research on you as well as your life. This can consist of extensive review of your social media profiles and activity in great detail, but can also include more invasive types of monitoring. It could even mean sending private detectives to your home to watch you and even take still pictures or video footage of you going about your daily life while your personal injury lawsuit is pending.
What many of these defense attorneys and their investigators do not count on is that we counsel clients what to do and not to do regarding social media at the beginning of every case and we also always exercise our client’s rights under Florida law to obtain information and copies of any surveillance that has been performed upon them by the defense attorney and that is intended to be used to use at trial. We can often use the consistency between our client’s injuries and this evidence to our client’s benefit at a trial or a mediation to obtain maximum compensation for our clients for their injuries.
Florida Law Regarding Surveillance and Social Media Monitoring
There’s nothing under Florida law that technically prevents the other side from conducting surveillance on you and, in fact, it is fairly common in many types of cases. Florida law allows taking photographs or videos of the plaintiff in a personal injury case, but it does not permit defense attorneys to either intercept your telephone calls or to call you and record the conversation without your consent. In performing surveillance, defense attorneys are hoping that they will catch you doing things that are inconsistent with your complaints to your doctors or are inconsistent with what you were telling others that you were capable of doing. What they hope to catch is a video of you going for a run when you are claiming in your lawsuit that you are unable to walk for more than 50 steps without assistance.
The same is true of social media. There is nothing to stop a defense attorney or someone from her office from monitoring your Facebook or Instagram profile in the hope that you may post something that is damaging to your case or your credibility. This is one reason we always tell our clients at the outset of their case to make the social media profiles private and to refrain from posting to social media as much as possible until your case is over.
The Practical Reality of Performing Surveillance and Monitoring Social Media
Performing surveillance on a plaintiff often can backfire on a defense attorney simply because, if the injured party’s attorney asks certain questions regarding surveillance and requests a copy of any video footage that has been taken of their client and the defense intends to use it as evidence at trial, that must be produced/disclosed by the defense attorney. Therefore, a smart plaintiff’s attorney like the experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley always will ask for any details regarding surveillance that the defense or its attorneys have performed on our clients and copies of any materials generated as a result of that surveillance in every single case we have. We always make sure to ask if surveillance has been performed upon our client as their deposition or a trial approaches because that is most often when the defense resorts to these types of tactics. Indeed, we will sometimes use the defense’s own surveillance video at trial to show how credible our client is and how consistent his or her complaints have been if appropriate.
This would be particularly true if the surveillance video shows you acting in a manner consistent with your injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. For example, if your injuries from a motor vehicle accident include the need to walk with a cane at all times and the surveillance video taken by the defense side’s private investigator shows you struggling to get in and out of the car or dropping your cane and struggling to stay upright, then this could be key evidence that you are just as injured as you claim you are. We might play this video for the jury at trial and even call their private investigator as a witness at trial to testify that, rather than seeing you faking your claimed injuries, what he actually observed was you acting 100% consistent with the injuries that you are telling the jury you suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
Contact the Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed Adams & McGinley
When you or a loved one suffers a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence, you need experienced Florida legal counsel you can trust. Our lawyers have more than 150 years of combined experience representing victims injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in Florida. Not only do we know how to turn the tables on a defense attorney who has had surveillance performed on one of our clients, but we know how to most effectively (i) mention this fact to the jury, (ii) use it to increase your credibility as the victim of someone else’s negligence and (iii) hopefully increase the potential compensation a jury may award you as a result. We are experienced in representing those who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in a wide variety of scenarios, so contact us toll free at 877.694.6079 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer today.