Insurance Video Surveillance And Your Accident Claim

An injured car accident victim was dipping a chip into salsa at a restaurant. The restaurant's surveillance cameras record the victim. An insurance company involved in the victim’s case gets a copy of that recording. The recording was then turned over to a doctor who never examined the accident victim. The doctor says the victim was able to work based and seemed healthy based on the doctor's review of the recording. The victim's disability benefits were then cut off. Is this fact or fiction? Can surveillance video be used against you in your Kentucky accident case?

Related: Faking Injuries in Car Accidents

Don't fake injuries
One of the worst things an accident victim can do is fake an injury or exaggerate the injuries they received. Unfortunately, this is a practice many do in hopes of getting a better settlement. Insurance companies know this, and the insurance industry has long resorted to video surveillance to catch these culprits. Some critics feel that this practice has gone too far. This is because sometimes the video records a truly disabled person, and then the recordings are used against them. The sad part is these “scam artists” make the process a nightmare for accident victims that were truly injured in an auto accident.

Don't dip that chip!
The scenario you first read is not fiction. It actually happened. A man named Jack “Rocky” Whitten suffered from several residual symptoms as a result of a broken neck from a fall. He had vision problems, memory issues and was often in excruciating pain. Mr. Whitten fortunately had purchased disability insurance 10 years ago that paid him 60% of his salary if he ever became disabled. After his fall, three doctors declared him permanently disabled, and he began receiving benefits in 2003.

In 2008, a representative from Hartford Insurance Company visited Mr. Whitten and his wife and questioned his limitations. The claims adjuster then pulled out a video that showed Mr. Whitten getting out of a van, looking at a magazine and eating chips and salsa. You may be thinking, “So what?” However, shortly after this visit, the Whitten’s received a letter from Hartford explaining that his benefits would be cut off based on the video. A report from a doctor hired by Hartford – who had never examined Mr. Whitten - claimed that Jack Whitten was able to work based on the video. After a phone call from national television show Good Morning America, Mr. Whitten’s benefits were restored. Hartford believes this claim was handled fairly and strongly.

Related: Is The Insurance Company Really My Friend?

Peer review by a doctor
A doctor looking at records and not examining the patient is called a “Peer Review.” It is a common practice in cases and is frequently used in Kentucky accident cases to review medical payments submitted under PIP. The medical care is often found to be unnecessary or unrelated to the car wreck by the peer review doctor. The insurance company will deny payment based on this review. This forces the accident victim to litigate their case against the at-fault party and their own insurance company. The process is very frustrating for those who have legitimate injuries. Many times those unrepresented by an attorney will stop treating. This is detrimental to their claim and recovery.

Video surveillance
Insurance companies have been using video surveillance tactics for years. These videos can catch accident victims painting houses, exercising and even dancing when they are supposed to be injured. In a world where the Internet rules, insurance companies can find out things about you that you didn’t even know they could find in places you didn’t think they’d look. The Internet has an abundance of information that is available to insurance companies. They could look at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. to find out what you're up to. Don’t give them a reason to deny your claim and be careful. As we can see from Whitten case, even the most innocent action can be misinterpreted.

Michael Schafer
The Personal Injury Attorney for Louisville and Kentucky
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