General Advice – November 2019


Are Surveillance Videos Worth their Salt?

As the economy bites deeper, as more spurious claims appear and as insurers become wiser, so do I see a greater number of surveillance videos forming part of the brief to be reviewed.

spy camera

Ideally, the surveillance video is viewed before I see the plaintiff. That allows me to form some sort of opinion about physical capacity or otherwise and to pose direct questions or even perform specific tests to assess the accuracy of the performances both on screen and in person.

One memorable case I recall from 15 years or so ago was a lady in her forties who led us all to believe that her state was so severe that she rarely left her wheelchair, let alone her place of residence. It was during the trial that the Defence produced a contemporaneous video recording of the plaintiff water skiing. That in itself was memorable. The fact that she was topless ensured that none of us would ever forget the unmasking.

woman water skiing

This type of dramatic exposé is unusual. More often, I see grainy images with the subject partially or completely obscured by vegetation, motor vehicles or buildings. The glimpses are brief, the plaintiff is not doing anything spectacular and the observation becomes essentially worthless.

man working on car b&w

The securing or otherwise of surveillance video recordings is for the lawyers to decide. In the event the material is created, I always view it. My plea is to ensure that it is contemporaneous, that it is taken on different days, weeks or months apart, in different environments and with the plaintiff performing contrasting tasks. Importantly, allow me to view the recording prior to the medicolegal consultation.