Analysis of a Personal Injury case and how a private investigator can help

Posted Thursday, April 21, 2011 by Ed Harper

I.Two aspects to Personal Injury case:

A.Liability
B.Damages

II.Liability and Damages Challenges:

A.Liability – Who is at fault?

  1. Low impact cases.

a.Damage doesn’t show up on photographs, and/or
b.Less than $1,000

i. Not much property damage, so “how could someone be hurt?”
ii. Defendant will argue, directly or indirectly, per colleague of mine, Rick Friedman, that client is liar, cheat, fraud or malingerer.

2.Combat contributory negligence issue or denial of liability by:

a. Measurements of the scene
b. Photographs of scene
c. Video of the scene
d. Interviewing liability witnesses

B.Damages – What are the economics or “claim value”

1.Medical Treatment/Bills must be reasonable, necessary & causally related

a. Pre-existing conditions

i. Treating
ii. Not treating

b. Subsequent injuries

i. Who is at fault for subsequent crash/fall?
ii. Defendant’s burden, if plaintiff was not at fault, to establish their % of damages
iii. Can be an advantage to Plaintiff, but client never going to get twice the value for the claim(s)

2.Wage Loss

a.Requires independently verifiable proof from employer
i. Human Resources or supervisor
ii. Pay stubs
iii. Tax returns
b. Disability slip from health care provider

3.Non-economic damages
a. Pain and emotional distress
b. Loss of enjoyment of life
c. Disability – permanent or temporary
d. Scarring – disfigurement

C.How to Bolster Claim

1.Screen cases
2.No exaggeration
3.Lay witness statements re honesty, work ethic, character
a. Legitimize injuries – pre-accident/post-accident condition
4.Treating doctors
5.Experts

III.Summary: Functions of PI

A.Asset checks
B.Service of Process:
1.Corporate
2.Personal
C.Locating defendants
D.Photography/videography of scene and/or property damage and/or injuries
E.Witness interviews
F.Court file access

IV.Final suggestions

A.Prepare service of process and Declaration of Service forms
B.Ask attorney whether they prefer to use their own forms or yours
C.Keep data/information to a minimum: Attorney isn’t interested in the “trail” leading to a defendant; just needs you to find the defendant

We Are Here to Help

Although our office does not handle all types of cases, we hope you will contact us regarding any legal issues you may encounter. We will answer your questions, or refer you to another quality and trustworthy attorney if we are unable to assist you.

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Harper Law PLLC
826 6th Street South, Suite 101, Kirkland, WA 98033-6740 US
47.6685640-122.1958750
Phone: 425.284.3333
Fax: 425.284.4286