Is an insurer entitled to have you followed and under surveillance?
Yes. Defendant insurance companies often order surveillance on plaintiffs. The goal is simple: the insurance company wishes to see what activities you can and cannot do in your day-to-day life. If private investigators conduct surveillance and see you limit your activities based on a debilitating injury, there is no cause for alarm. However, private investigators seeing you more flexible, or more active than you reported to your insurer, could lead to problems.
Consider this hypothetical scenario: David was in a motor vehicle accident and suffered whiplash. He claims his neck, shoulders, and lower back were in constant pain. However, footage from a surveillance video shows him painting his garage door from top to bottom, carrying a 5-gallon bucket of primer paint. Here, the insurance company may want to show that David was not truthful about his condition, and use the surveillance footage as its evidence.
Now consider David’s position if a surveillance video shows him driving, shopping and lifting small bags of groceries. Those are everyday activities that must be done, pain or no pain. Unless David claimed a total inability to lift any small weight and bend slightly, the insurance company may not consider this video footage as contradicting David’s claim.
But doesn’t surveillance infringe on a person’s right to privacy?
Yes and no. Collection of evidence, in this case surveillance, does not fall under federal privacy laws. However, surveillance has to be done in good faith and there are limits on private investigators in Ontario which is a regulated industry. There must be a strong basis supported by evidence to order surveillance. Insurance companies cannot order a review of your entire life. They must order surveillance only on what is relevant to the plaintiff’s claim. Finally, insurance companies must hire the services of reputable personal investigators, preferably members of a provincial order with many years’ experience. Therefore, disreputable or dangerous persons will not carry out surveillance.
Insurance companies can order surveillance on a plaintiff, but within strict guidelines.
Our Ottawa personal injury and accident lawyers are specifically trained to handle such issues. If you or someone you care about was injured in an accident, please contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation. We work on a no-fee-until-you-win basis. Call us at 613-315-4878 – Ottawa accident and injury lawyer.
Involved in a car accident in Ottawa and need a lawyer? What is OCF-5 and OCF-6 Accident Benefit Forms
We looked in a previous blog at the general insurance form package sent to an insured following a motor vehicle accident. Let us now look at the other forms an injured plaintiff may receive from his insurance.
OCF-5 Form: Permission to Disclose Health Information
You may receive this form along with the general forms package (OCF-1, OCF-2, and OCF-3). The OCF-5 form allows the insurance company to access your full medical records. authorizes your medical providers to release your file. While it is necessary to disclose some of your health information to support your Accident Benefits claim, this may give the insurance company access to your entire medical file. This would allow the insurance company to comb through your history for any pre-existing medical condition you may have. This would in turn allow them to deny your claim.
We generally prefer a certain balance in the disclosure of medical information process. Do not submit an OCF-5 form unless the insurance company asks you to do so. You can further ask the insurance company to specify which medical records they require access to and for what purposes. You can also limit the date of medical information you give access to (e.g. from 1 year prior to the date of the accident to the present date). In any event, you should get legal advice if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and get a legal representative’s help for your Accident Benefits claim.
OCF-6 Form: Expenses Claim Form
This form is not included in the general form package you will receive from your insurance company once you notify them of your motor vehicle accident. You must request this form from your insurance provider. The OCF-6 form allows you to request reimbursement for expenses that you incurred because of your accident but that are not covered by other benefits (i.e. medical bills, lost income, property damage). You can therefore claim for these expenses in your OCF-6 form: – Assistive devices (cane, walker, crutches, etc.) ; – Destroyed clothing or personal items (eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, etc.) ; – Transportation costs to and from your medical appointments ; – Lost educational expenses (non-refundable tuition if you are unable to attend classes because of your injuries) ; – Travel expenses for visitors coming to help with your recovery.
Of course, you will need to prove those losses with invoices and bills showing you already paid for these goods. We strongly suggest hiring a legal representative to advise you on your Accident Benefits claim, including on how you can claim for your expenses.
Accident Benefits forms appear easy to figure out on your own, but they may impact the amount of your benefits and of your settlement.
Our Ottawa accident benefits and car accident lawyers lawyers are specifically trained to handle such issues. If you or someone you care about was injured in an accident, please contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation. We work on a no-fee-until-you-win basis. Call us at 613-315-4878.