Personal injury cases can cost an insurance company an enormous amount of money. As an attorney working on cases regarding personal injury, it is up to you to keep these costs to a minimum by fighting cases where a plaintiff’s demands are unjustified. A sub rosa investigation offers you a powerful tool to aid in your effort to fight against both fraudulent and exaggerated claims of personal injury.

What is a Sub Rosa Investigation?

Simply put, this is an investigation that is done in secret. The term sub rosa comes from the Latin language and means under the rose. More specifically, in the area of private investigative work, it means gathering information on people without them being aware of it.

Commonly, this involves physical surveillance, and it involves documenting certain behaviors and activities with photos and video recordings. Although done discreetly, a professional investigator, always conducts this type of surveillance legally.

Types of Clients Who Benefit from a Sub Rosa Investigation

Although there are individuals who hire the services of a private investigation for a number of reasons, the bulk of cases are for insurance defense lawyers, personal injury lawyers and claims adjusters. People often exaggerate their injuries to get more money, or they simply fake their injuries to collect money they are not entitled to.

These false and exaggerated claims cost insurance companies millions of dollars every year. For this reason, a good private investigation firm is well worth the cost. Insurance companies routinely run a cost benefit analysis of using private investigators, and a good investigative firm demonstrates its benefit by keeping false and exaggerated claims as low as possible.

Why Would Someone Use Sub Rosa Services vs Standard Methods?

The key to discovering fraud is to investigate someone without them knowing they are being investigated. This is especially important when a person is being watched in public. If someone is attempting to cash in on a fake or exaggerated injury, the evidence must be gathered unbeknownst to the suspect. It is only when they believe that no one connected to the case is around that they will drop the act, and then get caught on video doing something that is not consistent with their lawsuit.

It is also critical that the person conducting the investigation not be detected. If the work is not done correctly, it can result in an individual becoming aware of being spied on, and once they know they are under surveillance, they’re not likely to do anything to compromise their case.

A Sub Rosa Investigation Can Help Your Defense

There are a variety of activities that can be documented with photos and video. Some of this may be subtle movements such as walking or lifting seemingly heavy objects. This type of evidence may be helpful to you, but attorneys for the plaintiff may argue that a box that was lifted was empty, or their client is able to walk for brief periods of time.

However, sometimes the evidence isn’t so subtle. People are often unaware that they are being watched. Although suing for a large amount of money invites inspection, an individual can be oblivious to this, so it is not uncommon for a private investigator to record evidence of an injured person engaged in sporting activities or doing their favorite exercise.

People are creatures of habit, so when they are faking or exaggerating their injury, they will often continue to do the things they normally do, including sports and exercise. Some people can even be found partying as if they have a reason to celebrate, even when they claim to have a painful injury.

What is the Difference Between Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury?

Although the services of a private investigation firm are important to investigating workers’ compensation fraud, they take on increased significance with a personal injury case. This is due to the differences between the two situations.

With workers’ compensation, an employee is claiming to have been injured at work, and they are looking to collect benefits while they are recuperating from their injuries. There is no one to blame for the injury as is the case with a personal injury claim. As your private investigator firm we are only looking to find evidence of a fraudulent claim or a worker who has exaggerated their injury. In some situations, the injury is real; it simply did not happen at work.

With a personal injury case, someone is being accused of negligence and is therefore to blame for the injury. Even more significant is the award for damages. In a personal injury case, a person can collect on medical expenses, time lost from work and various other loss of income. However, the biggest award can often come in the form of pain and suffering. This can be subjective, and is why a sub rosa investigation can be critical. Evidence discovered by a private investigator can mean a reduced award for the plaintiff or even no reward at all.

Why Using a Sub Rosa Investigation is Beneficial to a Non-Work Related Injury Case

As mentioned before, the awards for a non-work related injury can be substantial, so insurance companies need to make sure that the claims of injury are true. The stakes are high. Although many insurance policies have payout limitations, in some jurisdictions, the sky’s the limit for pain and suffering.

Every day throughout the country, there are people who attempt to cash in on a fake injury or an exaggerated injury as if they are playing a lottery. A large check from an insurance company and they are living on easy street. A private investigation firm can attempt to gather as much evidence as possible for you and your legal team to defend yourself from fraudsters and frivolous lawsuits.

Evidence You May Obtain from an Insurance Investigation

Obviously, due to the nature of a sub rosa investigation, the most important evidence will be photos and videos. The exact nature of the imagery will depend upon the information you provide us concerning the target of the investigation and the nature of the injury claim.

An injured person will also have to see a doctor. We are often able to get photos of a person going into and out of a doctor’s office or a hospital. A person exaggerating or faking an injury is likely to be more on guard when going to the doctor’s office. They may use a walker or a wheelchair on their way into the medical facility, but as they leave, they suddenly no longer need it.

Of course, how well this helps your case and how you use this evidence is up to you. There can be subtle differences between injuries. A person may be able to walk, but not lift weight. The more information you can give a private investigator about the nature of the case and the injury, the better the chance of getting evidence on video or film of a compromising activity.

An Investigation Can Provide Evidence Beyond Video

Once a personal injury claim has risen to the level of a lawsuit, a claims adjuster has likely seen enough evidence to deny a claim, or more than likely has offered an amount that was considered too low. In either situation, as an attorney, you are faced with defending against this lawsuit, and this means having as much evidence on your side as possible.

In addition to photos and videos of a plaintiff engaged in physical activities that are inconsistent with their injuries, there are many other types of evidence that can be gathered. Much of this isn’t direct surveillance of the subject, but complements a sub rosa investigation, and can produce important information in your effort to defend against the lawsuit.

Social Media Evidence

Not all photos need to be taken by a private investigator. It is not uncommon for people to be unaware of how easy it is for a professional investigator to find, read and view their social sites online. They may post photos of weekend getaways they took after the alleged injury, such as skiing or surfing at the beach.

Other examples include photos taken in places where they have an expectation of privacy; and therefore, are off limits to a private investigator. However, once they put the images on a social website, it is fair game, and can become crucial evidence for your defense. A private investigator can look at everything that is being posted in an attempt to discover evidence that can help your case.

Evidence from New Witness Testimony

A private investigator can canvass an area for additional witnesses and there are different methods for doing this depending on the type of accident. Injuries that took place on the property of a business may produce new witnesses as customers may have witnessed the incident, but for whatever reason they weren’t questioned before.

Car accidents often produce witnesses at a later time. It is not uncommon for people to refrain from coming forward at the time of the alleged accident, but later, a good private investigator will find one or more of these people, and what they saw at the time of the accident may be different than what the plaintiff is saying happened.

Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to interview a witness who has already given a statement and look for inconsistencies. Also, through interviews of known witnesses, it is sometimes possible to uncover new witnesses to the accident.

Documenting the Scene of the Accident

This includes a variety of data that may have been overlooked, but helpful to your defense. For example, with traffic accidents, we can take photos of the location of the accident that clearly shows every view and angle. Traffic signs, intersections, crosswalks and other important information can be documented visually.

Examples of other information are the weather at the time of the accident and the angle of the sun, if the accident occurred during the day. Other conditions such as fog, rain or wet streets can also be included. Some of this information may be inconsistent with the plaintiff’s claim of injury.

Review of the Police Report

A police report is seldom conclusive, and there is often missing information. A private investigator can review the report and determine if there is any possible pertinent information that has been omitted. Granted, as an attorney, you will be looking at the same report, but private investigators have a lot of experience uncovering insurance fraud as well as working with people. Often, it is not what is in a police report that is suspicious, but what is left out.

Once an insurance claim has risen to the level of a lawsuit, you will need as much evidence as possible to mount a successful defense. The best way to accomplish this is with the assistance of a professional investigation firm such as ours. We provide a robust range of services that include a sub rosa investigation as well as other investigation services that provide you with a powerful tool to support your defense.

In this manner, our private investigation services can help protect your company from fraud and exaggerated claims of injury. Contact us today, and let us know about your current problem. We can then explain how our services can be applied to your specific circumstances.

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Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is a private investigator and founder of Tristar Investigation, California’s premiere detective agency. Bruce is also a media commentator for the investigation industry, featured in the New York Times, CNN, History Channel, MSNBC, Los Angeles Times and many more. You can find him on Google+ LinkedIn and YouTube.