Last year the top insurance companies, all names you know and see on television ads, had net income in the billions of dollars. The formula is simple, take in more money than you pay out. I represented insurance companies for about 2 decades of my nearly 30-year career. One of the practices I had a love-hate relationship with was surveillance. That was when the insurance company hired a private investigator to follow and videotape a person’s activities. I say it was a love-hate relationship because most of the time it resulted in nothing more than a voyeuristic confirmation of the person’s injuries, and it was kinda creepy that the insurance company had investigators following claimants around. However, I did love it when they caught the occasional fraudster.
Insurance companies no longer need to hire private investigators to peek into the lives of claimants. Today they simply look at Facebook and Instagram and use a person’s own posts against them. In a recent negligent security case, a young woman who was carjacked, kidnapped and repeatedly abused throughout the course of a night, was questioned about pictures pulled from her Facebook and Instagram accounts. The pictures showed her smiling and she used filters to look cute, but they didn’t negate the horror she endured or the injuries she sustained. Fortunately, her attacker is serving life in prison! However, this invasive practice demonstrates how insurance companies surveil injured people in the 21st century to avoid paying a claim. And guess what….Florida courts allow this practice!
These days I no longer represent insurance companies. My practice is dedicated to representing people who have significant injuries due to no fault of their own. Many of my clients have never previously hired an attorney and never thought they would need to do so. My partners and I at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith educate every new client as to the role of social media on their case.
This blog was written by Partner Steve Clarfield.