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Gathering evidence in a personal injury case: Lawyer as Detective

One of Goldfinger Personal Injury Law’s clients was recently profiled in the Peterborough News x3 for a bar assault claim. You can read all about our client’s story in the Peterborough Examiner’s article; the Peterborough This Week’s article; you can watch the footage on CHEX-TV in Peterborough below:

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsVTMgTsAOU
 

Thanks to all those in the Peterborough area for reaching out to us with their comments and the positive feedback. We appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

But on to other legal matters.

Popular television shows like CSI, Law & Order and even Dexter have really twisted the general public’s notion of the utility and deductions which can be drawn from evidence gathered in a car accident or criminal case. Don’t get me wrong, modern forensic science has come a long way since the days of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes snooping the streets of London for clues during the Industrial Revolution. What they don’t tell you is that not eveyone’s DNA is stored in a magical DNA bank so that police can track down their suspect. Evidence gets lost, destroyed, improperly tagged (yes that happens), or sometimes the people investigating the scene of the crime or accident is over looked.

In serious car accidents, police will call in their own engineers to prepare accident reconstruction reports. This process entails engineers investigating the accident scene, and re-creating how the accident happened using modern science. They factor in the weight of the vehicles involved, the speed at which the vehicles were traveling, the light and visibility of the road way, the road grip, the grip of the tires, the makes/models of the cars, and the list goes on. The engineers also retain human factors experts to determine what a person in a like situation might have done. This is a multidisciplinary approach which encompasses a wide variety of areas.

But not every car accident is severe. And not every car accident requires the police to spend valuable resources on preparing accident reconstruction reports. Sometimes the police are busy, and they don’t have the time or resources to get to the bottom of the case. Sometimes the investigating officer might be having a bad day, or might want to get out of town so their long waited vacation can begin. The file gets transferred to another officer who doesn’t have the time to deal with it, or doesn’t like having the file dumped on him. Other times, witnesses flee the accident scene because they fear they will be bogged down with lengthy interview times or possible Court time. In such cases, the police investigation may be incomplete, or it may have been impossible for the police to get all of the facts to properly assess the circumstances leading to the accident.

In such cases, us personal injury lawyers often get involved and do some investigating on our own. Much like Sherlock Holmes in the days of old, we have to hit the streets and look for clues and witnesses. I can’t reveal all of Goldfinger Personal Injury Law’s secrets, but I can tell you that sometimes what a good lawyer has to do isn’t all that glamorous and isn’t what you’d expect. There’s a lot of door knocking, cold calling, and getting your hands dirty to get the facts and evidence needed in order to build a successful injury case.

Lots of clients tell me that their accidents were caught on surveillace footage. We see this in car accident cases on 400 series Highways. Clients believe that their accidents are caught on the traffic tape. We also see this in slip and fall cases where clients believe that their accident was caught on the security cameras. This can also happen in assault cases where clients believe that the assault might have been caught on tape. In most cases, the accidents are not caught on film. Sometimes, the cameras are just there for show and to deter wrong doing. Often, these cameras aren’t even connected, or just don’t record. On occassions when the film is running, it’s often blurry, or the accident took place out of frame/camera. While some film is certainly more helpful than no film, if the incident isn’t caught on tape, it’s back to the traditional ways of collecting evidence in personal injury cases.

I would also like to share with you a quick experience of a very special client of mine. Let’s call my client Mr. X. Mr. X had a Judgment against him. The Judgment was from an out of town jurisdiction. And when I mean out of town, I mean it was a Porter flight away. The Plaintiff wanted to bring Mr. X in to their own town for what’s called a Judgment-Debtor Examination to determine the extent of Mr. X’s assets and his ability to re-pay the Judgment. Mr. X didn’t have the financial means to travel far away for the Examination. He called the Court and asked why the Examination had to take place in the Plaintiff’s jurisdiction, and not his own. The Court basically told him to leave them alone, and to attend at the Examination in their jurisdiction or else there would be chance he’d be found in contempt and perhaps have to do jail time.

Our office knew that the Court was wrong in compelling him to attend an Examination outside of his jurisdiction. One call from Goldfinger Law, and the Court acknowledged their error, and has agreed to suspend the Examination. The Court is now making the Plaintiff bring the Examination in Mr. X’s jurisdiction; saving him the time and expense of a flight. Just goes to show that the Court does make mistakes and a call from your lawyer to get to the bottom of things never hurts.

Have a safe Labour Day Long Weekend. Drive Save and don’t drink or boat and drive!

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