What does a Licensed Private Investigator do?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2019
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A licensed private investigator is a person who is hired by individuals or by companies to conduct investigations. Licensed private investigators are sometimes just called "private investigators" or "PIs" Some of the most common tasks of a licensed private investigator include collecting information for attorneys in civil cases, tracking the movements of a person whose spouse suspects them of adultery, and following up on claims on behalf of insurance companies.

When working for an attorney, a licensed private investigator will usually work towards substantiating something claimed by the attorney's client. Alternatively, work for an attorney, a licensed private investigator may be involved in collecting evidence that will be used to defend the attorney's client. This kind of work, as with many other kinds of tasks performed by a licensed private investigator, usually involves surveillance work that yields evidence in the form of photographs or videos.


Many times a private investigator is hired by a person who suspects his spouse of having an extra marital affair and wants proof. In these sorts of investigations, a licensed private investigator will follow the suspected adulterer for a certain period of time that is determined by the investigator and the client. The PI will report the movements of the spouse to the client. In some cases, the PI will even provide photographs and video tapes. In the event that the spouse is caught in the act of adultery, the evidence may be used in divorce cases and in following cases relating to the custody of any children.

There are a number of capacities in which a licensed private investigator may work for an insurance company, but the most common assignments that insurance company give to PIs have to do with disability claims. If, for example, a man claims that he hurt his back on the job and is receiving compensation from his employer's insurance company, the insurance company may have a licensed private investigator follow the man to make sure that he isn't engaging in activities that, according to the claims related to his injury, he should be unable to do. Photographs and video tapes of these activities may be used against him in proceedings that will either end his compensation or alter the terms of his compensation.


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