When you are in the midst of a legal situation, you often want to get the best results possible. You need to find all the evidence you can to help your case. Many times we are contacted because either a law firm or their client needs our help. Sometimes it is to assist in collecting evidence, such as surveillance video from the scene of an accident, sometimes to locate witnesses, or perhaps to do a scene inspection to obtain measurements and photographs at the location of an accident. The list goes on and on. This is where hiring a Private Investigator with insurance experience comes in handy. We have been working cases to assist in hearings and court proceedings for many, many years. We go above and beyond to do whatever we can to help our clients find whatever answers they are looking for. Here are a few of the most memorable cases from our 30+ years in the business.
The Fall At The Mall
Many years ago we were hired to try and find a witness at a mall where an elderly woman had been seriously hurt when she slipped and fell on ice, cracking open her head on the pavement when she slipped. It was painful to even look at the staples on the top of her head after this serious fall. We were assigned the task of taking injury photos, doing a scene inspection, and to canvas for a witness. We met with the client and her lawyer at her home in Laurel Hill, Queens. While taking the injury photos was not a problem, it was finding a witness to give us a statement that was truly going to be difficult. All too often, employees are very hesitant to say anything against their employer, let alone agree to a witness statement. Nevertheless, we took the case. After taking the photos, we sat and listened to the Claimant as she went over in detail what had happened. We took notes on every detail – the spot she fell, what she remembers happening afterward, the people that helped her, etc. With the injury photos in hand, we headed off to the mall in Downtown Brooklyn and began our investigation.
We located the area where the accident occurred and began taking photos as we walked around the area and paid close attention to the surroundings. There was a noticeably large amount of ice melt when we arrived in the area where we were told the accident occurred. There was a beam directly overhead by the entrance door that was dripping quite a bit. We took our photos and measurements. It looked as though the management had tended to the area a lot to ensure it was safe for customers to come and go without any risk. It was a bitterly cold day in February, and people were hurrying inside as much as possible to get out of the cold or dashing to their cars to head home. A pretty busy spot. As we stood there observing the foot traffic and did not see anyone that appeared to be slipping or sliding, it looked as though there was not much to work with. However, a seasoned PI knows that not everything is as it appears. There was a reason there was so much excessive ice melt in that area.
We went off in search of any employees that we could find. We found the “grounds crew,” and all they would say was that they were told to take care of the outside area when it was cold so that everyone would be safe. Company line. We spoke with a few mall security people who said the same thing. Over and over, we were told that the mall was so careful, that they were so concerned about the safety of the customers and staff. Blah-blah-blah. We knew that these folks were not going to be able to help our case. They were too nervous about endangering their livelihood by going against the people who paid them. That is until we came across one staff member, who we will call Ace. When we came up to Ace and asked him if he had been working the previous Saturday, he said yes. We then asked if he remembered hearing about a woman slipping and falling on the ice outside the mall door. He said, “Hell yeah, I remember. I’m the one that called the ambulance,” was his response. This was promising. We continued to talk to Ace about that day. “Can you tell us what happened?” “Sure can. I’ve warned these idiots about people falling on the ice outside that door for months. Every time I turn around, someone else is falling on that ice. It was only a matter of time until someone got really hurt.” Bingo! “Did you let management know?” I asked. “Of course I did. I must have called and emailed those idiots a dozen times. They were too cheap to buy the extra ice melt. I told them to fix that leaky spot so the water wouldn’t drip and cause a damn skating rink, but they said no, that it wasn’t that bad. I knew something was going to happen.” He asked how the woman that had fallen was doing. So we showed him the injury photos – blown up to 8×10. He was visibly upset and then angry. “Those fools. Look what they did! Disgusting how they can be so cheap and cause someone to be hurt like that.” We knew that we had our witness. “Would you mind giving us a statement about this to help this poor woman? Just so she can be compensated for her pain and suffering from what happened?” “You bet I will” was the answer we were hoping for. This witness was exactly what the client and her attorney needed. The statement was so good that the jury gave her a very large settlement. It was a slam dunk.
Fleeing To His Floozy
We were contacted by a woman that was looking to get proof that her husband was cheating on her in reference to her divorce case. He worked nights off-site and she worked days remotely from their home in Ravenswood, Queens. Her family attorney suggested that she hire a PI. So she came to us.
She told us that his days off were Thursday and Friday and that, usually, he would go off on Thursday to do chores and then relax on Friday. So we set up to follow him on Thursday. At about noon, he appeared, went to his car, and drove off. We followed him to a florist, then after a quick stop to gas up the car, he headed to Upper Ditmars, Queens, to meet up with a woman (not his wife) and brought her to a fancy restaurant. It was then that we noticed he had changed his clothes in the car, probably when he was waiting for her to come out of her apartment. As we watched them from the restaurant window, we received a call from the client. “Hello. I don’t think anything will happen today,” she said, “because he had to work late. He’s still upstairs sleeping.” We responded with, “Well, someone that looks exactly like him that drives his car is sitting in a restaurant right now nibbling on some woman’s neck. So I strongly suggest you check the bedroom to see if he is there. Otherwise, his lookalike just stole your car.”
The Winning Witness
We were hired once to do an accident investigation regarding a hit-and-run. The victim was hit by a truck in Brooklyn. He was crossing the street to go to a small diner when a truck hit and killed him. The driver claimed the person ran out between the cars and he could not stop in time. The widow and her lawyer were not convinced that it happened that way and hired us to investigate further. We sat with the widow at her home and reviewed his typical routine. He was retired but still pretty active socially. She said he liked to get breakfast at a place in that area every morning when he worked for the school system as a crossing guard, but when he retired two years ago, he still went each morning to have breakfast. It was a tradition for him and got him out of the house each day. She found it hard to believe that he would be so careless as to cross between the cars even though it was not a busy road. The speed limit was only 25, and most times, people drove slower than that.
We went to the scene to see for ourselves. We found the area where the victim was found, according to the police reports. It was almost 50 feet away from the area that the diner was in. It wasn’t uncommon to have to travel a bit for a parking spot, but he had a handicap plate, and there were two handicapped spots directly across the street from the diner. Very strange. Especially since he would go to breakfast at 5:30 am each morning, and it was mostly a retail area, so there should not have been an issue with parking.
We came back the next day at 5:30 am and went into the small diner and sat at the counter, ordered a coffee and the “special,” and waited to see who came in. Not long after we arrived, a few people started to come in. Then one older man sat at the counter and started to talk to the waiter/cook. The man seemed very tired and down. After a while, the man started to talk to the cook and said how he missed his buddy. The cook seemed equally as down as they stared thoughtfully out the window. I asked him what had happened. We came to find out that he had witnessed the entire event. He was waiting in the doorway when his friend was exiting his car directly across from the diner. There was a crosswalk that led from the handicapped spots to the other side of the street, where the diner was with a crossing signal, and there was a traffic light as well. When the traffic light was red, and the crossing signal showed that it was safe to cross, he looked both ways and started to cross the street when the truck came flying down the road dangerously fast. The truck hit him so hard that he was thrown 50 feet down the road and landed on the ground. He died moments later. So that proved that the truck driver was completely at fault since the victim was in the crosswalk, had the signal to cross, and the driver blew through the red light. We got the statement from the friend, as well as two other people that were listening to the story and said that they too had seen the horrible event happen that morning. This helped the widow not only get a settlement from the trucking company’s insurance carrier but also get closure, knowing that her husband was not at fault for what had happened, as the driver claimed.
The point I am trying to make with this blog is that sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes and someone with experience with accident claims and/or surveillance to be able to help you to get as much help as possible to prove your point and, hopefully, win your case. So when it comes to something as important as your day in court, don’t take chances and cut corners. Do it right the first time. You won’t regret it.
*This blog is not meant to be construed as legal advice. Always consult an Attorney for legal advice.
Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full service Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured and bonded, handling cases all over Connecticut as well as Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, Bronx NY, New York City, Staten Island and Long Island NY. Adam, along with his wife, Terri, have been working cases for Legal Teams, Insurance Companies, Private Businesses, Municipalities, School Systems and general investigation services for the public since 1992.
Investigreat, LLC | Private Investigators serving Connecticut, Long Island City, Jamaica NY, Brooklyn NY and Queens NY | Office Numbers: 860-899-1710 or 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269