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We have previously written about the importance of quickly reacting when a client suffers a catastrophic injury. In our recent catastrophic injury settlement, acting immediately to protect the accident equipment was crucial in the success of the personal injury claim.
South Louisiana Construction Accident
In this particular case, the accident occurred in southwest Louisiana and involved heavy industrial equipment. The safety feature on the equipment malfunctioned, resulting in catastrophic injuries for one of the construction workers. Fortunately, I was contacted by the victim’s family quickly – within 48 hours of the accident. Once I learned from the family that the equipment was still present at the accident site, I immediately contacted the owner of the job site and requested that he tape and seal off the machine in question.
Preserving the Accident Scene
This was very important because within three weeks we were able to fly into the area with our expert, take photographs and document the condition of the equipment. Based on this evidence, it was later determined that the equipment was missing a part which caused the machine to malfunction and resulted in my client’s injuries. Our videotape and photographs showed that the equipment was missing the part, and were also able to document through photographs that the part was missing prior to arriving at the job site.
This evidence was vital to establish liability against the owner of the equipment. You cannot distribute equipment that is not fully certified and fully functioning with all parts present and in working order. In this particular claim, a critical part of the safety mechanism was not present and we documented this through investigations, videos and photographs.
Establishing Liability by Sealing off the Evidence
If we had not seized the piece of equipment and investigated and documented the equipment, it is very likely that the evidence would be lost and liability would not have been proven. If the machine had been taken back by its owner prior to our inspection, it would have been impossible to confirm whether the part was missing at the time of the accident.
Another example of this is a highway collision involving a 18 wheel truck. When this happens, our office immediately contracts with a safety investigator, usually a former highway state patrolman, who will measure skid marks involved in the collision and determine who is at fault. We have had cases in the past where we determined by the “travel log” of the truck driver and measurements of the accident scene that the truck driver was grossly negligent and actually exposed to punitive damages.
The importance of this story is that all experienced catastrophic injury attorneys, including my law firm, will act immediately after a client’s injury. Obtaining a court order to preserve the evidence is critical in this type of situation. We can then preserve the accident scene, seal off all evidence and quickly investigate the accident scene with experts, photographs and video.