04 February 2019

Think nobody’s watching? Think again!

A true personal story: I call it, “Surely They Won’t Follow Me On a Family Vacation!”

Years ago, when I made my living defending insurers against personal injury claims, I was representing a large insurer against a woman claiming serious back injury from an automobile accident. When I took her deposition, she claimed to have severe restrictions in simple everyday physical activities such as carrying groceries from her car and other ordinary household chores. She even claimed that standing and walking caused severe back pain, and that she spent most of her days sitting or lying down.

My instincts told me she was not being truthful, so I convinced the insurer to allow me to hire a private investigator to conduct video surveillance. A few days later, the investigator called to tell me that “the subject” and her family and children were packing the car for what appeared to be a snow-skiing trip (the husband’s skis gave it away).

Although he would not tell me how he did it, the investigator found out exactly where they were going. I notified the insurance adjuster of this, and he agreed to pay for the investigator to travel to Vail, Colorado to continue surveillance. A week later, we had more than 3 hours of video of “the subject” bending over to buckle and unbuckle heavy ski boots, carrying her and her children’s heavy ski equipment, aggressively and beautifully skiing, and even taking a hard tumble now and then. We even got footage of her skiing while carrying her young child.


After the trip, she continued seeing her orthopedist every few weeks, still claiming severe limitations in carrying out simple daily activities. I took a follow-up deposition a few months later, and she described her limitations similarly. She also denied having left town at all since the accident.

Videos Shot by the Private Investigator left the Women Defenseless

Now she had committed perjury in her deposition in addition to committing insurance fraud. We could prove it. Days after we sent the video footage to her attorney, she dismissed her case at her own cost.

Insurance companies will spare no expense to prove exaggeration or fraud. The stakes are high. Their attorneys and adjusters are not fools, and they do this every day for a living. No matter how legitimate your claim may be, they will assume and hope from Day One that you are like “the subject” mentioned above who went skiing, and keep looking for ways to prove it. And right at the point, the private investigators will take the stage and do their best to reveal a possible insurance fraud. Even if they find no fraudulence, exercising the due diligence, which will save the money of the Premium holders, will increase the prestige of the insurance companies.