SHOULD I HIRE A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR?
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident where the driver who hit you has completely fabricated a story to the responding police officer, it’s easy to get frustrated. The officer who arrives on the scene will take both of your statements and the department will do their own investigation, but you may be worried you’ll be left out in the cold with your rights violated. Do you need a private investigator to dig up the truth?
Should I Call an Attorney First?
You should absolutely call an attorney first! An experienced personal injury law firm will usually have a dedicated private investigation company with a proven track record that they turn to regularly. A seasoned PI can work closely with an attorney to help build a strong preponderance of evidence case before a civil suit is even filed. They can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Why Do Attorneys Use Private Investigators? How Do PIs Help?
Often an attorney has only a client and a police report to start with, but these are not the only pieces of evidence needed to put together a strong personal injury case. A good PI can help fill in the blanks that the police report leaves unanswered. They can use their expertise to help in several ways.
They Do Deep Dives Into Accident Reports
Police officers only have so much time to devote to each individual accident report, and if something is missed during the initial intake of information, it may not get a follow-up.
Private investigators make it their business to hunt down witnesses to get statements, often video-taped, which can help back up your claim. They know the right questions to ask and ways to get reluctant witnesses to talk to them. They can take photographs of the incident site and in some cases do the necessary accident reconstruction work that an attorney can use to convince a jury to decide in your favor.
They Obtain Surveillance Video
In some cases, an incident may have been unknowingly captured on surveillance video. These videos are often on a loop and destroyed after a period of time. Private investigators will look beyond the immediate parameters of an accident scene to see what other information might be available and secure that information before it is lost.
They Document Searches
Private investigators can do background checks and gather necessary data from hospitals, motor vehicle departments, law enforcement agencies, and state departments to piece together a more comprehensive report. Often they have established relationships that make it easier for them to retrieve the data they need.
They Help With Recovery
Good private investigators may also help after a judgment has been awarded, uncovering a defendant’s hidden assets or bank accounts that will help the attorney’s client collect what they are rightfully owed.
Are There Drawbacks to Using a Private Investigator?
Private investigation services will add costs to your legal fees, so you’ll want to discuss ahead of time with your attorney whether the added expense might be necessary. While a PI might help prove a point you desperately wish to make, if their services don’t change the bottom line for damages, it may not be worth the investment. There is also the chance that a PI uncovers information that proves the client was not entirely honest.
Private Investigators Are a Resource
Private investigation services can be a valuable resource for an attorney and client considering whether to file a lawsuit. As with all professional relationships, however, it is imperative that as a client you are completely forthright with both your attorney and any PI that is hired on your behalf. A case has the best chance of a good outcome when honest relationships are established between all parties.