In short, yes. Video and camera surveillance is often used by insurance companies to obtain evidence of the true extent of a claimant’s injuries. For example, if you were injured at work and subsequently make a Workers’ Compensation claim, WorkCover may decide to conduct covert surveillance of your activities to determine whether you are physically limited to the extent that you claim. This may involve a private investigator using a video camera or still camera to capture images of you while you are going about your daily activities.
This type of investigation is legal, however, there are limits on what private investigators can film.
Although private investigators are licensed under the Security Providers Act, they do not have any rights beyond those of an ordinary citizen and they are bound by all state and Commonwealth laws.
Private investigators cannot legally:
A private investigator can take photos or videos of you and your home unless:
“Private activities” include things like undressing, using the bathroom, showering or bathing or intimate situations where you would reasonably expect privacy.
A private investigator may legally take video of you going about your daily life inside or outside of your own home or at another private property. They may also follow you when you leave your house and film you in public places.
Private investigators will often follow a claimant to their medical appointments to confirm their identity, so be especially aware in these situations.
If a private investigator obtains video footage of you doing things that you have told doctors that you cannot do, or that doctors have told you not to do, you may appear to be exaggerating your injuries and your claim for damages may be at risk.
It is therefore important that you be aware of the possibility that you will be filmed and take care at all times when you are out in public or performing activities around your home. Do not do anything your doctors have told you not to do or anything that your insurer could use to minimise your injuries.
If you feel that a private investigator is acting unethically and is not abiding by the law, you can lodge a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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