Contributed by: Brian Coykendall
Weather plays a big role when determining a well-constructed plan of action for any surveillance on any claimant. Immediately, most of us look ahead to the upcoming weather forecast and determine that rain, snow and high winds are probably not a great time to conduct surveillance. The initial thought of these less-than-desirable conditions is that very little-to-no activity will present itself. In most cases, that poses a very strong argument, especially regarding any outside activity at the claimant’s home.
What we can’t immediately dismiss, and need to always keep in mind, is that most routines are minimally affected by most weather conditions. We still commute to work, schools, scheduled appointments, etc. Grocery shopping still needs to get accomplished as well as the rest of our daily needs, whichever those may be that are tailored to each separate individual.
Another highlight of this just took place a couple of weeks ago. And, against the surveillance investigator’s judgement to pack it up and save it for a better day, the end result added a heavy dose of value to the client’s defense against the claimant’s alleged injuries and restrictions that she disclosed as part of her injury claim. Surveillance began, on this initial day of the file, just prior to dawn. It was raining and had only gotten worse as the morning progressed. With the client’s budget and the M.O. to produce at the forefront of the investigator’s mind, he called the office to share his thoughts. After a brief conversation, it was determined that a half day would be acceptable, and fair, to the client. Shortly after that conversation, amidst a near downpour of heavy rain, the claimant’s garage door opened and she departed the area alone. She was followed to a couple different locations before resting at a local library. The investigator did his due diligence, following the claimant inside and observing her as she appeared to study a number of old newspapers. Pretty boring stuff, right?
Even though this surveillance didn’t prove to be anything too exciting; let’s say, for example, like going to the North American International Auto Show and browsing next year’s releases, or following the claimant into Gold’s Gym and obtaining an hour of video as she tossed around more weight than she weighs herself. No. But, the client found the information and video evidence to be about as exciting as the aforementioned. The claimant’s disclosed restrictions included some driving and the fact that she could no longer read due to the headaches received from her recent auto injury. The backpack that she swung over her shoulder just added that little something extra to the alleged back injury also.
Although cases like this one do present themselves, I’m not suggesting that for any given poor weather report or the fact that it’s raining cats and dogs that we schedule maximum surveillance efforts and rush right out to make this happen. We merely need to remember that with the proper pre-surveillance data collection, any case has the capability of presenting valuable information to our clients at any given time.