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Can You be Put Under Surveillance in Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you might expect questions, depositions, and document requests, but many are surprised to learn that surveillance can also be part of the process. It’s important for plaintiffs to understand that the defendant, typically through their insurance company, may hire a private investigator to gather evidence on the extent of your injuries. This evidence could potentially contradict the claims made in your lawsuit. Here's what you need to know about surveillance in personal injury cases, the legal limits surrounding it, and how you can prepare and respond.

The Right to Conduct Surveillance

In personal injury cases, defendants have a legitimate right to verify the nature and extent of your injuries. Surveillance is a legal method used to gather evidence that may indicate whether the injuries are as severe as claimed. For instance, if someone claims a severe back injury but is then filmed lifting heavy objects, this footage might be used to challenge the plaintiff’s credibility and claims.

Legal Limits of Surveillance

Although surveillance is permitted, there are strict boundaries that must be adhered to. Investigators cannot trespass on private property, engage in illegal activities such as hacking into personal digital accounts, or record private conversations without consent. All surveillance must be conducted in a manner where the subject could reasonably expect to be seen by the public. For example, an investigator can film someone in their front yard but cannot peek over a fence to film someone in a more secluded backyard.

How to Counteract Surveillance

If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, consider that you might be under surveillance, especially if you leave your home to perform any public activities. Here are a few guidelines to help you manage this possibility:

  1. Be Consistent: Always be consistent with the limitations your injuries impose on you, not only for your legal case but also for your health.

  2. Know Your Rights: Understanding the boundaries of legal surveillance can help you identify when those lines have been crossed.

  3. Consult Your Attorney: If you believe that surveillance has overstepped legal boundaries, discuss it with your attorney to explore your options for legal recourse.

Discovery and Disclosure of Surveillance

In the course of your lawsuit, you have the right to ask whether surveillance has been conducted as part of the discovery process. If the defendant has conducted surveillance, they must disclose this upon request. The footage obtained may also need to be provided, depending on the rules of evidence and discovery applicable in your jurisdiction. This disclosure is crucial, as it allows your attorney to prepare an appropriate response and address the evidence during the trial.


Surveillance can feel like an invasion of privacy, but in the context of a personal injury lawsuit, it is a tool often used by defendants to verify claims. By understanding your rights and the legal limits of such surveillance, you can better navigate the complexities of your case. Always communicate openly with your legal team about any concerns you might have regarding surveillance. They can provide you with the best strategies and support to manage this aspect of your lawsuit effectively.


If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact Phillips & Associates at (818) 348-9515 for a free consultation today.

You will immediately be put in touch with John Phillips or Patrick DiFilippo, who can help determine whether you have a case and advise you on the best course of action moving forward.


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