When acting for a person injured in a motor vehicle accident, lawyers can often make the mistake of relying too heavily on the version of events as reported by police, or even their own clients. In cases where the insurer has denied liability for a person’s claim – that is, they have denied their insured driver was at fault in the accident – or where they have accepted liability, but alleged that the injured person contributed to the accident in some way (this is referred to as contributory negligence), relying only on documentary evidence or on statements to understand how the accident occurred can prove very risky.
In these circumstances it is often crucial that lawyers view the scene of the accident themselves and try to get a feel for how the accident occurred, and which version of events seems most plausible when considering the actual ‘lay of the land’. A lawyer’s failure to view the scene of the accident for themselves could be the difference between winning or losing your case.
In the first instance, a view of the scene of accident can actually take place from the comfort of your own computer chair – that is, by jumping on Google Maps and viewing the scene using the satellite image option. Using this option allows you to zoom in on a satellite photograph of the scene of an accident and observe it from various angles. This can be a very instructive exercise in cases where the version of events in the police report is unclear, or where there are conflicted versions between witnesses.
However, whilst Google satellite images can be very helpful, nothing beats leaving the office and viewing the scene for yourself. Stacks Goudkamp been successful in a number of cases we first thought might have been impossible to win all because we have gone to the scene of the accident and come across a crucial piece of evidence or an eyewitness who for some reason was not interviewed by the police. We have even found a client’s lost spectacles metres from the scene of the accident and years after it took place!
If you or someone you care about has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, are are unsure of your rights and would like to know more about making a claim, do not hesitate to contact us on 1800 25 1800 to speak to one of our compensation lawyers, or make an online enquiry for a free no obligation assessment of your claim.
Written by Ruth Hudson.
Ruth Hudson is a Practice Group Leader at Stacks Goudkamp. She has experience acting for clients in a variety of areas, including motor vehicle claims, public liability claims and professional negligence claims.