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Articles Posted in Surveillance

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One of my young personal injury lawyers and I had a chat following an Examination for Discovery. He was quite surprised by the tone which the lawyers for the insurance company took with our client. The lawyers were mean, nasty, rude, snarky and did not give our client the benefit of the doubt.

Would that lawyer speak in that rude of a tone to a stranger? Nope.

Would that lawyer speak that way in a regular world setting outside of the law? Nope.

If that lawyer spoke that way in his/her everyday life, would they have any friends? Nope.

So it begs the question: why are lawyers so stern and mean, particularly during the discovery process?

There are many answers to this question.

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There is a whit van parked outside of your home. Perhaps it’s at the end of the street. You’ve seen it parked there all week and a few men in it. When you leave the home,  the very same van is following you. You tell your partner that you have a feeling that someone is following you. Your partner tells you to relax and that it’s probably nothing. Your told that you’re being paranoid because you’ve been under a lot of stress and in pain lately. But something is fishy about this van.

You’re not wrong to have these feelings. Sometimes (not all of the time), your feelings of paranoia are justified because someone is in fact spying on you. As creepy as it sounds, it’s true. And worst of all, it’s completely legal.

If you have been hurt or injured in an accident; or have a disability claim against a private insurer (STD, LTD, Mortgage Insurance); there is a good chance that the insurance company you are fighting is doubting the legitimacy of your case. They doubt the authenticity of your claim, the severity of your injuries and they question your credibility. When this sort of thing happens (which is often), an insurance company will use one of its many tools to defeat your case.

One of the most effective tools is in person surveillance. This means that an insurance company will hire a team of private investigators to camp out outside of your home, and follow you around. They may even try to take images of you in your yard or inside of your home. Super creepy.

Some insurers would rather spend tens of thousands of dollars on investigators, medico legal experts and on lawyers fees rather than pay you a single shiny nickel.

What the insurance company is trying the establish is that you are a liar, a cheater, a faker and a fraudster. If they can establish any of the above; they feel confident that they will be able to defeat your claim. In order to do this, the insurer will attempt to create a narrative which they hope a Judge and Jury will buy. They want to establish that at Plaintiff is not trustworthy and is faking their injuries. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by playing movies at trial of the Plaintiff doing things which s/he said that s/he could not do; or which s/he should not have been doing. If they surveillance shows the Plaintiff having no mobility issues, leading what seems to be a normal, care free and pain free life; then a Judge and Jury won’t think that the Plaintiff is injured or disabled. This will take all of the teeth out of the Plaintiff’s case and leave the Defendant in a good position.

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The unfortunate realities of Long Term Disability Claims is that in order to be on claim, you can’t be working. If you’re not working, that means that you’re not earning an income.

Whether you live in a big city like Toronto, a medium city like London, or on the outskirts of Peterborough, love alone won’t pay your rent, mortgage, pay for the food for your family, or pay the heating or hydro bills.

People need money to survive, and money doesn’t grow on trees. People need to go out and earn money by working.

But what if their doctors told them that they cannot work?

What if living on a pension, on OW, ODSP, or CPP Disability isn’t enough?

At Goldfinger Injury Lawyers, we understand that making ends meet, even for able bodied people is hard enough. Multiply that degree of difficulty times 5 if you’re disabled. Increase that degree of difficulty if an insurer like Manulife, Great West Life, Sun Life, SSQ, RBC, Industrial Alliance or Co-Operators has denied your Long Term Disability Claim.

The stress of having a Long Term Disability Claim denied in the first place is hard enough. Let alone the devastation of the denial itself. Compound to that the financial hardship that disabled claimant are under; it’s unconscionable.

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Certain fact patterns in cases are so unbelievable, that even the most experienced and seasoned personal injury lawyer can’t make them up. Just when you thought you’d seen it all…

It’s common for insurers in Ontario (and all across Canada for that matter), to retain private investigators to conduct surveillance on injured accident victims. The investigators are paid by the insurer to follow as discretely as possible the Plaintiff and try to catch them in the act of doing something that runs contrary to their case.

For example, if the medical records from the Plaintiff’s medical experts show that the Plaintiff can’t run; and the Plaintiff at his/her Examination for Discovery states on the record and under oath that s/he can’t run; but the insurer has video surveillance of that very same person running in multiple marathons/races post accident; then that Plaintiff’s credibility will be left in doubt for a Judge and Jury at trial.

If the Plaintiff complains that s/he cannot work and cannot lift, but there is surveillance showing that same person working at a rock quarry lifting heavy boulders; again that person’s credibility will be a big issue at trial.

If the Plaintiff is lying about this, then what’ s to say that s/he isn’t lying about that? What’s to say that the Plaintiff isn’t lying about how the accident happened, the severity of their injuries, and how their injuries are impacting their day to day life? Can we now trust anything this person has to say?

Credibility and likeability are two big factors at trial. The more credible and likeable the Plaintiff is for a Judge/Jury; the greater the chance his/her version of the events and injuries will be believed. That translates in to a greater award at trial. The same goes the other way. The less credible and likeable the Plaintiff, the greater likelihood his/her version of the events will not be accepted. This will translate in to a lesser award at trial.

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More often than you could possibly imagine, we here at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers are courted by other lawyers, professional bloggers, advertisers and spam services to post content, links etc. on the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

We have never, and repeat NEVER caved. Only lawyers and other staff members of Goldfinger Law have ever posted on the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. All of our content is original, and is 100% Goldfinger Law. Can’t you tell? We have a certain style and panache which people have come to love.

Today is a momentous day. We are honoured to have a very special guest blogger to add his two cents on the field of personal injury law. We have allowed this lawyer to have his say on our blog because we certainly respect this lawyer’s ability, legal wit, and passion for the law.

Stephen Offenheim is a Toronto lawyer who has been practising on in the field since lord knows when. He is a seasoned litigator to say the least. Stephen has been an inspiration and has given me plenty of guidance over the years. It’s an honour to have his as the first ever guest poster on the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

So, without further a due; here is the lawyer himself, Stephen Offenheim covering the topic why it’s important NOT TO LIE in your personal injury case. Enjoy!
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One of the greatest weapons which an insurer has in their arsenal of defence strategies is surveillance.

For those of you who don’t know, surveillance is when an investigator follows an accident victim and films, records them, or takes photos of them when they’re out and about in public. For this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post we will NOT be examining the growing field of cyber/on line surveillance. Rather, we will dig deep in to the field of “old school” sleuthing surveillance where the Plaintiff gets followed or tracked by an investigator or team of investigators.

For most accident victims and disability claimants, they don’t know they’re being followed until it’s too late. Others recognize they’re being followed immediately, but still go on with their normal routine.

A picture says a thousand words. Pictures and film recordings in the context of a Judge along or Jury Trial in Ontario are very persuasive. Hearing a medical expert drone on and on about pain complaints can get very boring. BUT A MOVIE: now that’s exciting.

Think back to the days when you were in grade school. A teacher would lecture and the students would fall asleep. No matter how engaging the teacher, there were always a few kids in the classroom who never paid attention.

BUT, when the teacher brought in the television to play a movie, or to show some slides, even the kids with the shortest attention spans perked up.

This is exactly what happens in the Courtroom when the lawyer for the insurance company plays their surveillance video. All of the jurors immediately perk up to see what the investigators caught on camera. Those video and still images leave a lasting impression on the jury. It shows the Plaintiff in a light they don’t want to be seen in. It shows the Plaintiff engaging in normal every day life when they think there’s nobody watching. For those reasons, surveillance is a very powerful tool which should not be underestimated.
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